air pollution Current Affairs

Moss serves as a cheap pollution monitor: Scientists

According to Japanese scientists, delicate mosses found on rocks and trees in cities around the world can be used as low-cost bioindicator to monitor urban pollution and to measure the impact of atmospheric change.

As a bioindicator, mosses respond to pollution or drought-stress by changing its shape, density or disappearing.  This characteristic will allow scientists to calculate atmospheric alterations and air pollution.

Key Facts

Mosses are a common flowerless plant found in all cities especially in damp (humid) or shady locations. It generally absorb water and nutrients from their immediate environments, so it can reflect changes to ecosystems. So it can be used as potential bioindicators.

In the study, Japanese researchers studied the effect of nitrogen pollution, air quality and drought-stress on moss. They found that drought-stress tends to occur in mosses found in areas with high levels of nitrogen pollution, which has negative impact on health and biodiversity. It can be cost effective and important for getting information about atmospheric conditions especially effect of nitrogen pollution and air quality in urban area.

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SC bans use of five heavy metals in firecrackers

The Supreme Court has imposed ban on use of five harmful heavy metals like lithium, antimony, mercury, arsenic and lead in the manufacturing of firecrackers as they cause air pollution.

The SC order came on a 2015 petition filed by three Delhi children who had requested the apex court to intervene to regulate the use of crackers and fireworks during festivals like Diwali.

SC order

The apex court held that it is the responsibility of the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO) to ensure compliance of ban order particularly in Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu where there are large number of firecracker manufacturers. It also asked CPCB (Central Pollution Control Board) and PESO to make collaborative efforts for setting up of standards with regard to air pollution caused by the bursting of fire-crackers.

Heavy metals in firecrackers

Lithium is a metal used to impart red colour to fireworks. Antimony is used to create glitter effects. Lead oxide provides a special crackling effect which, if inhaled, in high concentration can cause damage to the nervous system.

About Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO)

PESO is the apex department to control and administer manufacture, storage, transport and handling of explosives, petroleum, compressed gases and other hazardous substances in India. It functions under the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Ministry of Commerce and Industry. It is headed by Chief Controller of Explosives and is headquartered at Nagpur, Maharashtra.

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