Geologists at Jadavpur College have discovered that they’ll get a preliminary sense of the air pollution in an space by amassing roadside mud and testing it with magnetic fields. The method reveals the presence of various magnetic components, and by tracing them again to particular sources of air pollution, the researchers might inform which sources have been dominating somewhere else.
Their research is within the space of environmental magnetism – which is “magnetism as it depicts the impact of climate change, pollution and environmental footprints on magnetic minerals present in environmental samples such as soil, dust and sediments,” Rimjhim Maity, who has accomplished her PhD from the Division of Geological Sciences, Jadavpur College, and is the research’s corresponding creator, instructed The Hindu.
She and her colleagues collected roadside mud samples from 50 areas in Kolkata in 2016 utilizing a brush and a scraper, dried them within the lab to take away all moisture, and examined them utilizing a magnetic susceptibility meter. The extent to which a cloth turns into magnetised when a magnetic area is utilized is its magnetic susceptibility. In addition they studied the shapes of the particles in every pattern below an electron microscope.
Their results were published within the January 2023 version of Present Science. They revealed “the dominance of magnetic pollutants in roadside dust in Kolkata,” Dr. Maity mentioned. “This combined study indicated that the frequency of pollutants was higher in areas with heavy vehicular traffic and other polluting sources. However, some areas with high pollution had open spaces, indicating the dispersion of magnetic pollutants.”
For instance, they discovered that the quantity of magnetite, an iron ore, was proportional to the site visitors on a given highway; it’s produced when fossil fuels are combusted in car engines. Utilizing the microscope, they have been capable of classify the particles’ surfaces as “rough and meld-like”. In response to their paper, “Meld-like structure of these particles is due to the high-temperature combustion of fossil fuels”. In addition they wrote that “angular iron-rich particles are considered to have been emitted by vehicles having abraded and corroded vehicle parts”.
On this method, the research items collectively a rough but indicative map of Kolkata’s near-ground air pollution.
“Broadly speaking, the method in the paper looks useful for mapping dust-loading on the roads – a very useful number for calculating road-dust resuspension emissions,” Sarath Guttikunda, founder/director of UrbanEmissions.data and an unbiased air-pollution researcher, mentioned. Raj Bhagat P., senior program supervisor (geo-analytics) on the Sustainable Cities & Transport program at WRI India, Bengaluru, echoed him: “As a research methodology and an academic advancement, [the study] looks interesting and promising.”
However Dr. Guttikunda was involved that it was “a manual method,” not automated like air-quality displays.
“Although our sampling procedure required manual intervention, in this process we can easily collect samples,” Dr. Maity responded. “We don’t have to follow any lengthy process to collect data; we can collect samples like road-dust using very cost-effective tools; and the instruments used … made the sample analysis very cost-effective, less time-consuming and more constructive than chemical analysis.”
Whereas automated monitoring is a profit, Raj Bhagat mentioned that “the biggest problem with continuous monitoring for our cities is not just the cost of sensors – it is about ease of operations, maintenance, logistics (who will take care of them and how), calibration for reliability, etc. At the stage of installation many sensors are well placed but in the long run, they are not calibrated, not maintained.”
Dr. Maity continued, “We are planning to do further studies to identify the usefulness of this cost-effective and less time-consuming method as a pollution proxy and apply it to detect the pollution in any environment globally,” and that it may very well be “very helpful for economically developing countries”.
She additionally mentioned, “If each and every industry has its own environmental management team, it can easily study the level of pollution periodically and seasonally using this cost-effective method.”
Dr. Maity’s coauthors on the research have been Supriya Mondal, Saurodeep Chatterjee, Debesh Achieve, and Dipanjan Mazumdar.