Rural cooking smoke is making Delhi air pollution worse
Over the past decade, research has shown a dramatic drop in the amount of household air pollution coming from inside Delhi. Since 2007, the contribution of household air pollution to ambient air pollution has fallen around 40%-50%. The improvement is due in large part to people switching from traditional, solid fuel-burning chulas to cleaner, more efficient cooking fuels such as LPG and electricity, which are used by more than 80% of households and commercial entities.
Despite this progress, the levels of ambient air pollution within Delhi have continued to worsen during the same period. Multiple sources contribute to this increase, including industry, transport, dust, waste burning, seasonal crop burning (outside Delhi), power plants, and diesel generator sets. Yet one often overlooked source is coming from the homes of people living beyond Delhi's city limits: cooking and space heating.
[pullquote]While millions of households in Delhi now cook with cleaner stoves and fuels, most rural household have not made this same transition. The continued reliance on chulas and unprocessed biomass fuels such as wood and animal dung results in high levels of harmful emissions. These emissions not only impact the air quality in rural areas, but, ultimately, impact the ambient air quality in Delhi as well, contributing up to on average 10% of ambient air pollution and higher during the winter months when space heating needs peak with temperature drops.
Data like this demonstrates that if household air pollution is not addressed across all regions of India, together with other major sources of air pollution, Delhi will never achieve its ambient air quality targets, let alone WHO guidelines.
“One of the most surprising sources of Delhi's air pollution is the smoke coming from the millions of cooking and space heating fires outside of the city limits,” said Dr. Sarath Guttikunda, Director of UrbanEmissions. “Urban areas such as Delhi cannot solve their air pollution issues without first addressing the issue of cooking, space heating, and household air pollution in the households beyond that surround them.
Dr. Guttikunda is presenting his findings this week in Delhi at the Clean Cooking Forum 2017, a global conference featuring speakers including Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, Infosys founder Narayana Murthy, and CEO of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves Radha Muthiah.