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. Air pollution rife in India's villages

Photo courtesy of AFP.
by Staff Writers
New Delhi (AFP) Jun 3, 2006
India's cities are among some of the world's most polluted, but an environmental report released Saturday found its rural areas are also suffering.

"Smoke Screen", a report from the southern-based SIPCOT Area Community Environmental Monitors, found 45 chemicals, including 13 carcinogens, in some 21 air samples it collected in village areas between 2004 and 2006.

The report studied samples collected at 13 locations, the majority of which were small communities, particularly in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

"Air pollution monitoring and regulation is primitive and India has no standards for some of the most toxic and commonly found air pollutants," said Shweta Narayan, a group organizer, in a statement.

Little national data is available on the state of outdoor air quality in rural areas, but the World Bank has expressed concern over pollution from stoves fueled by wood, dung and other materials.

A joint World Bank and Asian Development Bank study released in 2004 found at least four Indian cities were among the most polluted in Asia.

New Delhi topped the list of cities with unacceptably high levels of suspended particulate matter -- considered the most dangerous pollutant -- with readings of between 350 and 800 micrograms of suspended particulates per cubic meter. The World Health Organisation recommends less than 50 micrograms.

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A material designed to capture and remove mercury and other toxic substances from industrial waste streams is now available for commercial use. Battelle has licensed the SAMMS technology developed at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to Steward Environmental Solutions of Chattanooga, Tenn.

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