Bharat Standard Norms

Bharat Standard Norms

  • Introduced in the year 2000, the Bharat norms are emission control standards put in place by the government to keep a check on air pollution.
  • Based on the European regulations (Euro norms), these standards set specifications/limits for the release of air pollutants from equipment using internal combustion engines, including vehicles. Typically, the higher the stage, the more stringent the norms.
  • The BS IV norms were introduced in 13 cities apart from the National Capital Region from April 2010.
  • Currently, BS IV fuel is being made available across the country in stages, with the entire nation expected to be covered by April1 2017.
  • Implementation of the BS V standard was earlier scheduled for 2019.
  • This has now been skipped.
  • BS VI, originally proposed to come in by 2024 has been now advanced to 2020, instead.

Why is it important?

  • Upgrading to stricter fuel standards helps tackle air pollution.
  • Global automakers are betting big on India as vehicle penetration is still low here, when compared to developed countries.
  • At the same time, cities such as Delhi are already being listed among those with the poorest air quality in the world.
  • With other developing countries such as China having already upgraded to the equivalent of Euro V emission norms a while ago, India has been lagging behind.
  • While BS IV-compliant fuel currently in use has 50 parts per million (ppm) sulphur, BS VI stipulates a low 10 ppm.
  • Besides, under BS VI, particulate matter emission for diesel cars and nitrogen oxide levels are expected to be substantially lower than in BS IV.
  • The experience of countries such as China and Malaysia (which is currently grappling with haze) shows that poor air quality can be bad for business.
  • Therefore, leapfrogging to BS VI can put India ahead in the race for investments too.
  • When BS VI norms are implemented, you can look forward to breathing in cleaner air in cities.
  • New vehicles sold from 2020 will have to be equipped with engines compliant with the new standards.
  • Besides, the government is also thinking about a ‘cash-for-clunkers’ scheme for scrapping old vehicles.
  • This will help owners of older and more polluting vehicles to upgrade to newer vehicles which use cleaner fuel, with a subsidy from the government.
  • Upgraded emission norms could also mean less fuel-guzzling vehicles.
  • On the flip side, the use of new technology means higher costs for automobile manufacturers.
  • And that, dear buyer, will be passed on to you when you look to upgrade to your next car.
  • Oil refiners too will need higher capital outlays to produce superior quality fuel and may look to pass on the bill to you.
  • But remember it’s for a good cause.

Air Pollution – Particulate Matter

Fine Particles, Particulate Matter 2.5:

  • Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is an air pollutant that is a concern for people’s health when levels in air are high.
  • PM2.5 are tiny particles in the air that reduce visibility and cause the air to appear hazy when levels are elevated.
  • Outdoor PM2.5 levels are most likely to be elevated on days with little or no wind or air mixing.

What is Particulate Matter 2.5 (PM2.5)?

  • The term fine particles, or particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5), refers to tiny particles or droplets in the air that are two and one half microns or less in width.
  • Outdoor air levels of fine particles increase during periods of stagnant air (very little wind and air mixing), when the particles are not carried away by wind, or when winds bring polluted air into the state from sources outside the state. In general, as the levels of PM2.5 in outdoor air increase, the air appears hazy and visibility is reduced.

Where does PM2.5 come from?

  • There are outdoor and indoor sources of fine particles.
  • Outside, fine particles primarily come from car, truck, bus and off-road vehicle (e.g., construction equipment, snowmobile, locomotive) exhausts, other operations that involve the burning of fuels such as wood, heating oil or coal and natural sources such as forest and grass fires. Fine particles also form from the reaction of gases or droplets in the atmosphere from sources such as power plants. As fine particles can be carried long distances from their source, events such as wildfires or volcanic eruptions can raise fine particle concentrations hundreds of miles from the event.
  • Some indoor sources of fine particles are tobacco smoke, cooking (e.g., frying, sautéing, and broiling), burning candles or oil lamps, and operating fireplaces and fuel-burning space heaters (e.g., kerosene heaters).

How can PM2.5 affect health?

  • Particles in the PM2.5 size range are able to travel deeply into the respiratory tract, reaching the lungs.
  • Exposure to fine particles can cause short-term health effects such as eye, nose, throat and lung irritation, coughing, sneezing, runny nose and shortness of breath.
  • Studies also suggest that long term exposure to fine particulate matter may be associated with increased rates of chronic bronchitis, asthma, reduced lung function and increased mortality from lung cancer and heart disease.
  • People with breathing and heart problems, children and the elderly may be particularly sensitive to PM2.5.
  • Chronic exposure to high pollution is associated with an increased risk of miscarriage and early labor in pregnant women and low birth weight.

Air Pollution

Causes of air pollution:

  • Diesel vehicles are more polluting than petrol
  • They are high in PM, Nitrogen oxide not good for health
  • Ban 10 year old diesel truck entering city
  • Vehicular emissions
  • Dust emissions from construction work, thermal power plants etc..
  • Burning of wastes etc..

Major pollutants:

  • Benzene – byproduct of burning diesel.
    • It is carcinogen  (cancer causing tissue)..
    • Short term inhaling causes drowsiness, headaches
    • Long term inhaling causes disorders like anemia
    • Effect on reproductive system on women and foetus
  • Nitrogen di oxide 
    • From vehicle emission and coal based power plants
    • Lung infection and respiratory allergies
  • Carbon mono oxide 
    • Unborn babies, infants, elderly are at risk
  • Particulate matter 
    • Dust to dirt and soot
    • PM 2.5 > PM 10 (dangerous for human health, respiratory system)

How to avoid?

  • Use public transportation
  • Car pool
  • Increase car tax during vehicle registration
  • Put a cap on number of cars registered per year in the city
  • Increase parking charges
  • Lay more convenient roads for walking and biking
  • Introduce congestion charges to avoid traffic [ congestion charge is a tax you pay to drive your private vehicles in certain zones of the city].. Cities like Singapore and London has them implemented
  • Smoke emission report has to be checke