Delhi air heavy with pesticides, says study

Updated on Nov 03, 2007 03:08 AM IST

Carcinogenic pesticides used in neighbouring states pollute Delhi's atmosphere, reports Chetan Chauhan.

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Hindustan Times | By, New Delhi

Rich farmers around Delhi who use pesticides rich in carcinogenic pollutants like Endosulfans are poisoning the capital’s air. This can affect human health and the food chain, a United Nations study has revealed.

In the first global study of its kind, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and United Nations Economic Commission for Europe has found a heavy concentration of Endosulfans in the Capital’s atmosphere especially during July-September 2006. So far, there are no air quality standards for persistent organic pollutants (POPs) like Endosulfan.

Both maximum and minimum concentration of Endosulfan is highest in Delhi, the figures have revealed. Endosulfans are used in pesticides for wheat and sugarcane farming.

Professor SK Sinha, who is coordinating the study in India, said the statistics clearly demonstrated that Endosulfan-rich pesticides were being extensively used in Delhi’s neighbouring states of Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh.

The high concentration of Endosulfan was noticed as a phenomenon peculiar in northern India because there the farmers cannot afford this high cost pesticide. “Farmers in belt around Delhi are richer and therefore, they can afford bio-nondegradable Endosulfan,” Sinha said.

Endosulfan is in the ‘breathing air’ zone of Delhi, as samples were analysed at a level of 10-15 feet above ground. “POPs accumulate in human bodies and a high concentration can cause cancer,” Sinha said. It also pollutes the exposed food chain, thus indirectly harming human body. They remain in air for a much longer time than other pollutants like sulphur dioxide, generated from vehicular pollution, he said.


    Chetan Chauhan is National Affairs Editor. A journalist for over two decades, he has written extensively on social sector and politics with special focus on environment and political economy.

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