Animal care comes under Environment Ministry
NEW DELHI, July 15. Even before the ink could dry, an order transferring the subject of animal care to the Ministry of Agriculture has been withdrawn and a fresh notification has been issued placing the subject under the domain of the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
The issue of animal care has assumed importance in the wake of a running battle between animal rights activists and medical researchers over the maintenance of animals used by medical institutions for experiments.
The confrontation, which has led to the derailment of research activities and also production of vaccines and sera in several leading institutions such as the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences, the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, the National Institute of Virology, Pune, and the BCG Vaccine Laboratory, Chennai, for over three years now, had been defying a resolution.
An endeavour was made even by the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, to intervene. But, that too came to a nought.
A meeting convened by Mr. Vajpayee on June 24 with the then Union Health Minister, C.P.Thakur, and the then Minister in charge of animal care, Maneka Gandhi, merely decided that a special session of the Government's Committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals be convened soon for a threadbare discussion on the conflicting stands of the animal rights activists and the medical researchers.
Hazardous pollutants envelop T.Nagar
By Our Special Correspondent
CHENNAI, July 15. Two of the deadly pollutants breathed in by residents in some city areas were more than twice the permitted limit through a full year, studies of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) reveal.
Respirable Dust Particles (RDP) and Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM), both linked to serious health problems, were way above the limit in Thyagaraya Nagar, an area facing rising congestion.
Kilpauk and Vallalar Nagar also encountered very high levels of the two pollutants, while Anna Nagar followed next.
The monitoring of pollutant levels is being done in the city under the National and Chennai Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Programmes.
The high levels of the two pollutants indicate poor control over the mobile sources of emissions, which are universally accepted as the biggest contributors to worsening air quality. With rising petrol prices and poor enforcement, autorickshaws have become a major source of pollution.
While successive reports put out by the TNPCB indicate an unchanged trend of higher RDP and SPM in Chennai's air, the data for 2000-2001 are revealing: T. Nagar had SPM of 541 micrograms per metre cube of air, compared to an acceptable level of 140.A study of workers abroad, involving an exposure of equal to or over 310 micrograms produced cough, itchy or burning eyes, chest constriction, wheezing and breathing difficulty.
While tailpipe data on individual types of vehicles contributing the higher levels of pollutants are not available for the city for the particular year, vehicle monitoring done by the TNPCB listed for the city in general indicates that about 25 per cent of all diesel vehicles tested exceeded emission standards.
The data on diesel emissions, which are primarily contributed by buses, tourist taxis, government, police and commercial vehicles, has gained importance, as diesel engines (compression ignited) generate significantly higher particulates than petrol engines.
The acceptable level of RDP in air (for TNPCB) is 60. For residents of Kilpauk (RDP-164 and SPM-421) as well as Vallalar Nagar (RDP-124 and SPM-312), apart from those in the worst affected T.Nagar, the health risks are staggering.
There are both cancer and non-cancer health risks from the two pollutants, as studied by the EPA in the U.S. Exposure to fine particles in emissions contributes to respiratory and cardiovascular effects, and to premature mortality.
If the levels of the two primarily diesel-origin pollutants is high, those of other pollutants contained in auto emissions are moving into the red zone too: Nitrous Oxide, which causes Ozone formation and acid rain, was recorded at 49.8 in Vallalar Nagar during the year, indicating that it was inching up to the limit of 60.
Significantly, research has shown that older diesel engines produce more particles by weight, than newer ones, which produce finer particles. The ageing and visibly polluting MTC fleet, and the poor check on emissions by other diesel-driven vehicles could spell worsening health ahead for city dwellers.
For those with respiratory problems and allergies, the state of the city's air is cause for serious worry, going by results of global research. Ragweed (Parthenium) pollen can bind to diesel particles, aggravating its allergenic properties. In some participants in a study, the spraying of diesel particles in the nose resulted in tremendously increased allergy. The periodic reports issued since 2000-2001 do not indicate a significant change in the level of the two pollutants.