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Air Quality Management

urban picsUrban air pollution generates alarming levels of mortality through widespread chronic disease in the EAP region. For example, deteriorating urban air quality in China from power plants and increasing vehicle fleet has been estimated to contribute to the equivalent of 3 to 6 million life years lost annually. Pollution from coal burning alone is estimated to cause more than 50,000 premature deaths and 400,000 now cases of chronic bronchitis every year. There are many sources of air pollution, from household and municipal fuel burning to industrial sources such as power plants and increasingly urban transportation. The smallest sizes of particulate matter, PM10 (see map) and PM2.5, which are the most significant problem, are generated by diesel and two-stroke vehicles.

Out-door Pollution

Urban air pollution generates alarming levels of mortality through widespread chronic diseases, in Asia (as a whole) outdoor air pollution is thought to cause almost 500,000 deaths annually. The smallest sizes of particulate matter, PM10 and PM2.5, which are the most significant problem, are generated by stationary and mobile (e.g. diesel and two-stroke vehicles) sources.

 Stationary Sources: Emission from stationary sources includes power plants, industrial outputs as well as numerous family-owned manufacturing shops. Coal and oil-fired power plants facilities are usually the largest sources of sulfur dioxide emissions within a city because of the large amount of fuel they consume. Besides power plants and industries, domestic use of fossil fuels, especially heavy fuel oil, biomass, and coal, is also a significant source of ambient particulates and sulfur dioxide, especially in temperate regions like China.

 Mobile Sources: Pollution from motor vehicles is one of the main sources of urban air pollution in East Asian cities. This trend can mainly be attributed to poorly maintained vehicles, poor fuel quality and poor traffic management. The problem has been further exacerbated by rapid urbanization with increased vehicle population. Despite major efforts by several countries to reduce vehicle air pollution, the desired results have not been accomplished mainly because of the limited effectiveness of the control measures. The control of vehicle emissions require a comprehensive and sustained effort to improve control technology, maintenance, fuel quality, inspection and maintenance enforcement, traffic management and public awareness.

 Indoor Pollution

This problem is generally associated with the use of dirty fuels, such as biomass or coal, for heating and cooking. The problem, which is exacerbated by the use of inefficient stoves without proper ventialtion, is a serious contributor to respiratory disease and premature death, expecially among young women and children. On the Asian continent, indoor air pollution is estimated to cause over 1 million premature deaths annually. Access to cleaner fuels, improved stoves, and better ventilation are some measure that can contribute to improving indoor air quality.

Clean Air Initiative

      air quality
Clean Air Initiative - Asia

The Clean Air Initiative - Asia (CAI-A) promotes and demonstrates innovative ways to improve the air quality of Asian cities through partnerships and sharing of experience. The initiative was launched in February 2001 by the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. Since its inception, CAI has developed into a partnership among government agencies, academia, NGOs, and the private sector to advance innovative ways of improving air quality in cities and to share knowledge and experience across cities, countries, and regions. It has brought together a range of cross-cutting expertise and has mobilized work on a range of activities including:

  • Meta-analysis of environmental health studies to assess the impacts of air pollution on health;
  • Benchmarking of air quality and air quality management capacity in Asian cities;
  • Regional workshops on policies, strategies, and technical issues such as two-stroke engines, scrappage schemes, inspection and maintenance programs, fuel quality, transport management, and indoor air pollution;
  • Policy dialogue between auto manufacturers and oil companies to discuss vehicle and fuel quality standards;
  • Establishment of a regional network of Asian training institutes to support capacity enhancement activities;
  • Coordination among institutions and regional initiatives addressing air quality management;
  • Creation of a website to share cross-sectoral and cross-regional knowledge concerning air quality.
Air Pollution Management Weblinks
 Berkeley Environmental Health Sciences: This website, developed by Professor Kirk Smith, contains many resources on Environmental Health Impacts of Air Pollution.  
 Indoor Air Pollution (WHO): The website contains information on WHO's program on indoor air pollution.


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