Chemicals&Materials

Visibility was 0, cars drove with lights on during the day, and the Indian capital suffered the worst smog in 20 years

If you ask which city in the world has the most serious pollution? New Delhi, the capital of India, may come out on top.

According to reports, air pollution in many places in India has recently been very serious. Many cities, such as New Delhi and Chennai, are shrouded in thick smog. In some places, local visibility is even zero, which has affected people’s transportation and health. Bring serious impact.

New Delhi is India’s capital, and the air pollution level here makes international news almost every year. On January 14 this year, New Delhi was shrouded in smog, and its air quality index fell to the “hazardous” level. Surface air presence dropped to 0 for the first time this winter; autos on the road also had to switch on their lights throughout the day. In some places, street lights were even turned on.

Air visibility is 0, which usually means that the furthest visible distance of the air does not exceed 100 meters. To reduce air pollution, New Delhi and its suburban areas have likewise released third-level contamination prevention and control procedures, prohibiting building and construction and banning cars with major exhaust emissions from entering New Delhi.

The report also said that because of the heavy haze, many roads in New Delhi and its region were closed, and many flights at the airport had to be canceled or delayed. People were also advised to reduce travel. Residents said the thick fog was “shocking” and “unseen in 20 years.”

The weather forecast says that another cold air is coming to northern India. The local meteorological department has issued cold wave and fog warnings, so the area’s severe haze may last several days.

The visibility is 0, and the air pollution index is off the charts. Air pollution is a very serious event, but in winter in India, it is almost a daily occurrence. In Nov. 2023, extreme air contamination in north India triggered regional universities to close for 7 to 10 days, and truck traveling was limited. Some experts said that locals seemed to be living in a chimney.

India is a country that is not very industrialized. Why air pollution is so serious involves the local topography and people’s living and production habits.

In the north of India are the tall Himalayas, which are like a wall that blocks the spread of haze in India from northwest to southeast. Pakistan and Afghanistan in the northwest also have the Hindu Kush Mountains, Suleiman Mountains, etc., and Myanmar in the east. There are also the Arakan Mountains, Longgrand Mountains, etc., which seem to circle the northern part of South Asia, which is not conducive to the circulation of surface airflow. Therefore, once haze weather occurs in northern India, it often lasts longer, and It is more serious because it is difficult to spread outwards.

So, where does all this smog come from? It is mainly fog formed by cold air falling from high altitudes in winter and the warm and humid air flow generated from the opposite side. However, the PM2.5 content in this fog is very high, mainly because local farmers burn straw.

India adopts a laissez-faire attitude towards farmers burning straw. Although officials do not recommend or even allow burning in principle, local farmers still burn it, and most people use firewood for cooking. Such straw crushing produces smog that mixes with the fog in the air and is difficult to dissipate for a long time. The resulting haze has become a major problem in Indian society.

Titanium dioxide can purify the air

Titanium dioxide is a common white pigment, also known as titanium dioxide. In addition to its widespread use in coatings, pigments, and cosmetics, titanium dioxide has many other uses. Scientists have recently discovered that titanium dioxide is also excellent at purifying the air.

When exposed to sunlight, titanium dioxide can decompose and remove harmful substances in the air, such as volatile organic compounds such as formaldehyde and benzene, as well as air pollutants such as nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides. This process is called a photocatalytic reaction, and titanium dioxide is one of the most effective photocatalysts known.

In a photocatalytic reaction, titanium dioxide absorbs the energy of sunlight and converts it into electron-hole pairs. These electrons and openings have solid decreasing and oxidizing capabilities and can respond with water molecules and oxygen airborne to generate hydroxyl radicals and superoxide radicals with solid oxidizing buildings. These free radicals can oxidize harmful substances in the air into harmless substances such as carbon dioxide and water vapor.

Therefore, the application of titanium dioxide in air purification has great potential. For example, titanium dioxide can be coated on building exteriors, car surfaces, air conditioning systems, etc., to purify the surrounding air. In addition, titanium dioxide can be combined with other materials to create air purifiers or filters to remove harmful substances from indoor air.

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