From November 6th to 11th, Bart Croes and Dr. Shankar Prasad helped teach a course titled "Understanding Urban Air Pollution and the Role of Diesel Exhaust" in Delhi, India. The course was sponsored by the Fogarty Foundation and organized by UC Berkeley, the Indian Ministry of Environment and Forests, and the Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health at Lok Nayak Hospital. Over thirty students participated from throughout India and consisted of practicing physicians, occupational health scientists, university engineering faculty, professional staff from several air pollution control agencies, and representatives from non-governmental organizations. Seven lecturers gave intensive instruction in the health effects of air pollution, epidemiology study design, emission inventories, atmospheric processes, measurement methods, data analysis, and cost/benefit analysis. The highlights of the course were group projects designing epidemiology and source apportionment studies, and a visit to a monitoring site in downtown Delhi.
Annual-average TSP levels in India approach 600 mm/m3, with 24-hour peaks as high as 2500 mm/m3. Delhi has about 10,000 uncontrolled diesel buses spewing thick, black soot and over one million 2- and 3-wheelers with 2-stroke engines. At least two groups have estimated that, on average, one person per hour dies prematurely due to outdoor air pollution in the capital. Exposure to particles from indoor cooking and heating is an even bigger problem, mainly affecting women, infants, and children. Professor Kirk Smith of UC Berkeley recently estimated that indoor air pollution from solid fuel use in India is responsible for over half a million deaths in 1990, primarily children less than 5 years old with acute respiratory infections. While there are partially successful programs to distribute more efficient cooking stoves, convert buses in Delhi to natural gas, require catalyst-equipped gasoline, and remove lead from gasoline, the air pollution problems in India are overwhelming and compete for attention with efforts to reduce malnutrition and ensure clean drinking water supplies. Hopefully, training efforts such as this one will help develop a cadre of government employees, doctors, scientists, and environmental advocates equipped to effectively combat these problems.
Bart Croes is the Chief of the Research Division at the California Air Resources Board. He received his B.S. in chemical engineering from the California Institute of Technology and his M.S. in chemical engineering from the University of California at Santa Barbara. He was the program manager for the 1997 Southern California Ozone Study and Aerosol Program, and former manager of atmospheric processes, particulate matter, and acid deposition research at the California Air Resources Board. He serves on the National Research Council's Committee on Research Priorities for Airborne Particulate Matter and is a member of the Executive Steering Committee for the North American Research Strategy for Tropospheric Ozone (NARSTO).