Document 2592

Online continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring
India was listed fifth amongst the poisonous gas emitting nations in the world. With pollution levels
rising across the country, revised National Ambient Air Quality standards for twelve pollutants were
notified in 2009 by the Ministry of Environment and Forests(MOEF). Pollutant includes gases like sulphur
dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, carbon monoxide, ammonia and particulate matters below 10 micron,
below 2.5 micron size. As per revised norms, residential and industrial areas have the same standards.
The revised ambient air quality standards provide a legal framework for the control of air pollution and
the protection of public health which has provision for any citizen to approach the court for better air
quality. In India, these norms are governed by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and
implemented by the state pollution control board (branches of CPCP).
Fig 1: Air modeling
National ambient quality standards (annual) for Industrial, residential, rural and other areas:
in Pollutant
Ambient air (annual)
Ambient air (annual)
Sulphur Dioxide
50 µg/m3
Nitrogen dioxide
40 µg/m3
Particulate matter less 60 µg/m3
Particulate matter less 40 µg/m3
than 10micron size
than 2.5micron size
100 µg/m3
0.5 µg/m3
Carbon Monoxide
2 mg/m3
100 µg/m3
To transboundary atmospheric pollution, to limit polluting emission, to exchange the information on
atmospheric pollutants, to protect forest against atmospheric pollution, legislative and scientific studies
recommended that pollutants be measured at the place where they occur - so called toxic Hotspot
monitoring i.e a location where emissions from specific sources may expose individuals and population
groups to elevated risks of adverse health effects - including but not limited to cancer - and contribute to
the cumulative health risks of emissions from other sources in the area. Hotspot sources are vehicular
exhaust, major industrial emission, major events and are typically found in densly populated areas.
To keep a tab on air quality, online monitoring of notified pollutants at each hotspot location is a must.
These online monitoring stations give the environment department real time data on several gases and
pollutants at each of the site.
At present apart from the cities many other major polluting industries in India like power, cement, steel,
oil and gas, fertilizer , chemical, pharmaceutical are being asked to continuously monitor their pollutants
by using Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring System (CAAQMS) and submit daily, monthly and
annual reports on specified pollutant criteria to the authority.
Forbes Marshall, having been in the Instrumentation and Control business for more than six decades
realized the importance of CAAQMS, its huge business potential in India and hence in the year 2008 tied
up with M/s Recordum Messtechnik, Austria. M/s Recordum with overall 30 years of experience in a
similar field, specialized in the design and manufacture of high technology instrumentation for Ambient
Air Quality Monitoring stations, developed airpointer® - world’s first out-of-the-box, plug and play
Online Ambient Air Quality Monitoring system in the year 2001.
The airpointer® is a comprehensive solution for continuous monitoring of O3, CO, SO2, NOx, H2S, NH3,
VOC(BTEX), Particulate matter (PM10/PM2.5) in ambient air alongwith meteorological parameters like
wind speed, wind direction, rainfall, relative humidity, temperature, barometric pressure etc.
The airpointer® as a leader of a new generation of monitoring systems, offering a unique fully
integrated, most compact (10% of others) , mast/wall mounted, low power consuming(10% of others)
system with powerful monitoring concept from basic analysers to their built in calibration verification
packages to remote communications, data logging and automatic reporting via standard internet
connection and web browser making the airpointer® - “live on air”
airpointer® key features : Access the monitoring and raw data without special software - standard
internet connection and web browser will suffice. Reduce maintenance effort based on remote
diagnostics and update capability as well as automatic data back-up services, easy on-site maintenance
access while still offering a burglar proof design.
airpointer® being a new concept compared to other shelter based CAAQMS, and to update the CPCB
about the merits of airpointer®, for the period of 10 months we installed and demonstrated the
airpointer® unit at their Delhi head office and also near the ITO building, an area which is highly polluted
due to heavy vehicular traffic. The demonstration was successfully carried out at both these places,
which in turn boosted our confidence.
Our first order for three sets of airpointer® unit :
Finolex Industry, is a giant petrochemical plant in the sleepy town of Ratnagiri, the only industry amidst
orchards of the famous Ratnagiri Hapus mango. When they put up a coal based captive power plant of
44MW , there was a huge and cry from the nearby villages and protests from mango farmers who feared
that their orchards would get spoiled due to the stack emission. This is when MEOF and Maharashtra
Pollution Control Board also became very strict and came down heavily on Finolex. Mr. K P Chabria, the
Chairman of Finolex himself remembered us due to the excellent sales and service we have been
providing to them from Forbes Marshall. And we were also lucky to give then a solution since we had
the airpointer® to offer. When they floated the enquiry, all major competitors were in the fray. However
our goodwill, relationship, professionalism, new hi-tech product technology and excellent service
support decided the large order in our favour, knowing that this would be the first installation in India.
After commissioning the product, there were some hiccups due to tropical problems and extreme
weather conditions in which the airpointer®s were installed. However with our back up team, we came
out with flying color. Finolex has invited us to give this reference to customers in India and welcomed
visits to their installation.
The road ahead
CAAQMS is a highly competitive market and what differentiates us from the rest is our focus on offering
AAQMS services and the monthly reports we provide to our customers.
Pollutants and their effects on Health and Environment
Carbon Monoxide
Carbon monoxide is a highly toxic and flammable
gas, which is a major product of the incomplete
combustion of carbon and carbon-containing
Environmental tobacco smoke in dwellings, offices,
vehicles and restaurants can raise the average
carbon monoxide concentrations as well
High degree of exposure to carbon monoxide can
reduce the amount of oxygen supplied to the
brain, to the point that the person becomes
unconscious and can suffer brain damage from
shortness of oxygen.
Carbon monoxide may contribute to the
greenhouse effect and global
Sulfur Dioxide and Hydrogen Sulfide
Sulfur dioxide (SO2) is an acid tasting, colorless,
pungent smelling and toxic gas. Major sources are
heat and power generation facilities that use poor
quality oil or coal containing sulfur.
The effects observed include reductions in
pulmonary volume, increases in breathing
resistance and symptoms such as wheezing, chest
tightness or shortness of breath. It also could lead
to headache and nausea.
Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) is a highly toxic and Sulfur dioxide is one of the major precursors of
corrosive gas with a bad smell. H2S is a product of
acid rain, which accelerates corrosion of buildings
biogenous digestion. It can be found in refineries, and monuments as well as it acidifies soils, lakes
blast furnaces, pulp and paper industry, gasworks, and streams. Furthermore, it leads to reduced
coking-, wastewater treatment- and biogas plants
H2S destroys hemoglobin and paralyses
intracellular respiration. In contact with humidity
at mucus membranes it converts to alkaline
sulfides causing heavy irritations in the eyes, nose,
throat and lungs. H2S is a neurotoxic. The bad
smell of H2S is unbearable. The lower limit of
detection by humans may be as low as 2 ppb.
Because of its acidity H2S is a very corrosive gas. It
damages switchpanels and other electronics in the
Nitrogen Oxides
The nitric oxide (NO) molecule is quite reactive
and unstable. In ambient air, it reacts with oxygen
to form the toxic nitrogen dioxide (NO2). Human
activity has drastically increased the production of
nitric oxide in combustion chambers, e. g. car
engines and power plants.
Nitric oxide has a multitude of effects, primarily in
the lung but also in other organs, such as the
spleen and the liver. In the blood it leads to the
creation of meta-hemoglobin, which cannot
transport oxygen. Nitric oxide in the air may later
convert to nitric acid in acid rain. Furthermore,
both NO and NO2 contribute to a reduction in the
The phase-in of new NO2 thresholds values will ozone layer.
make the nitrogen oxides a subject of major
public interest.
Particulate matter (PM10 / PM2.5)
PM10 and PM2.5 are not a single compound but
the mass concentration of all particles smaller than
10μm (PM10) or 2.5μm (PM2.5) in diameter,
suspended in the ambient air. Especially in areas
with high traffic related pollution the threshold
values for this pollutant are frequently exceeded,
which makes them pollutants of major public
A number of studies have shown short term
cardiovascular effects related to PM, a direct
relation between the number of heart attacks and
the PM-concentration has been proven.
Long term effects are the toxicity of the particles
itself, their potential to carry and hold toxic
compounds in the respiration system and irritation
of the immune system due to their continuance
deep in the lungs.
Samir Bhandarkar