Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Diesel Generators poses serious health hazard in Ranchi city of India.

Diesel generators poses serious health hazard in Ranchi city of India.
by
Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi



In recent years the shortage of power coupled with unreliable and poor quality of the power supply has resulted in a proliferation of captive generator sets, run with either diesel, petrol or kerosine, as an alternate source of power. This is happening, particularly, in urban areas where the need is greater. Unfortunately, in most of these places there is an overlap of commercial, residential and industrial areas which together with poor planning for the installation of generator sets and absence of any acoustic treatment/enclosure, leads to excessive noise pollution.

In the photograph you can see one generator being kept in a very densely populated business area in heart of the Ranchi city, the capital of Jharkhand State. In the background you can also see the food stall where the green vegetables are used for popular Chinese foods. Possibilities of deposition of the smokes and dust containing toxic gases and particulates on the vegetables and Chinese food is high. People consuming these foods are at the higher risk of developing different health diseases. Even the local shopkeepers are under threat of different lungs diseases. These generator runs on an average for 4 to 7 hours a day during peak hour. This is not only one case in Ranchi there are several other numerous spots in Ranchi city where diesel operated generators are being used in an open space.
It is not only creating air pollution but also noise pollution.

A typical standby diesel generator produces 25-30 pounds of nitrogen oxides (NOx) per megawatt hour of power generated. Nitrogen oxides are a smog-forming pollutant. Diesel is produced from a fossil fuel and engines using it as a fuel produce air pollution and high sulfur levels. Diesel fuel also creates a distinct smell and exposure to diesel engine exhaust can also lead to health hazards.
Diesel emission levels of NOx, carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbons, and particulate matter were a substantial contributor to poor air quality.
The visible pollution generated by burning diesel contains elemental carbon.
And the smell comes from a group of particles called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, well-known cancer causing agents.
How effective are air pollution diesel emissions as a carcinogen? They were found to cause of up to 70 percent of atmospheric pollution induced cancer cases.
In one study, volunteers who allowed themselves to be exposed to diesel fumes reported coughing, sore throat and eyes, , headaches , and nausea. Some came down with lung inflammation after exposure.
Other common symptoms included the production of phlegm and difficulty breathing. Of course, people also complained about odors. A perpetual annoyance.
Fine particulate matter (PM) in diesel exhaust can by pass the body’s natural defenses penetrating deep into the lungs where it may cause or exacerbate respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses, and even premature death.

Nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from diesel engines contribute to smog formation which has been linked to increases in hospital admissions for asthma and is most
dangerous to children, the elderly, and those with pre-existing respiratory and cardiovascular disease. NOx emissions also react with other air pollutants to increase the level of particulates in the air.
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