Impact of air pollutants from surface transport sources on human health: A modeling and epidemiological approach
This study adopted an integrated ‘source-to-receptor’ assessment paradigm in order to determine the effects of emissions from passenger transport on urban air quality and human health in the megacity, Delhi. The emission modeling was carried out for the base year 2007 and three alternate (ALT) policy scenarios alongwith a business as usual (BAU) scenario for the year 2021. An Activity-Structure-Emission Factor (ASF) framework was adapted for emission modeling, followed by a grid-wise air quality assessment using AERMOD and a health impact assessment using an epidemiological approach. It was observed that a 2021-ALT-III scenario resulted in a maximum concentration reduction of ~24%, ~42% and ~58% for carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM), respectively, compared to a 2021-BAU scenario. Further, it results in significant reductions in respiratory and cardiovascular mortality, morbidity and Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALY) by 41% and 58% on exposure to PM2.5 and NO2 concentrations when compared to the 2021-BAU scenario, respectively. In other words, a mix of proposed policy interventions namely the full-phased introduction of the Integrated Mass Transit System, fixed bus speed, stringent vehicle emission norms and a hike in parking fees for private vehicles would help in strengthening the capability of passenger transport to cater to a growing transport demand with a minimum health burden in the Delhi region. Further, the study estimated that the transport of goods would be responsiblex for ~5.5% additional VKT in the 2021-BAU scenario; however, it will contribute ~49% and ~55% additional NO2 and PM2.5 concentrations, respectively, in the Delhi region. Implementation of diesel particulate filters for goods vehicles in the 2021-ALT-IV-O scenariowould help in the reduction of ~87% ofPM2.5 concentration, compared to the 2021-BAU scenario; translating into a gain of 1267 and 505 DALY per million people from exposure to PM2.5 and NO2 concentrations, respectively. These findings suggest that significant health benefits are possible if goods transport is also included while designing strategies and polices in order to improve the overall urban air quality and minimize health impacts in city areas.