Study: Burning of Municipal solid waste affecting Taj Mahal’s Color

Study: Burning of Municipal solid waste affecting Taj Mahal’s Color : According to an Indo-American Research Team, burning of municipal solid waste nearby the iconic Taj Mahal is contributing to the discolouring of the world heritage monument.

The research compared the impact of dung cake burning versus the burning of municipal solid waste on browning of Taj Mahal and on the health of people living nearby.

India, Agra, Taj Mahal

India, Agra, Taj Mahal

Using new field methods, researchers, including Raj Lal of Georgia Institute of Technology and Ajay Nagpure from the University of Minnesota in the US, provide scientific evidence that the burning of municipal solid waste nearby the monument could be contributing harmful levels of airborne particulate matter (PM).

The scientists found that open burning leads to about 150 milligram per square meter (mg m-2) per year of PM 2.5 (fine particulate matter) being deposited on the surface of the Taj Mahal compared to about 12 mg m-2 per year from dung cake burning.

Armistead Russell from Georgia Institute of Technology said that our early explorations find that just decreeing a blanket ban on MSW-burning is not effective as residents may have no other options.

Russell said that instead, finding new ways to serve under served and poor areas with waste pick up, potentially involving neighbourhood associations – appears to be a more promising route for authorities to pursue.

Researcher including Sachchida Tripathi from IIT-Kanpur and Anu Ramaswami from University of Minnesota said that Airborne particulate matter poses a range of problems in cities including degradation in air quality which leads to health concerns and also the discolouration of Taj Mahal.

They wrote in the journal Environmental Research Letters that the authorities in Agra, home to the Taj Mahal, have taken a number of measures to control the impact of local air pollution on the world heritage site.

The researcher said that these steps include restricting vehicles near the complex, prohibiting new polluting enterprises from being built within a defined buffer zone around the building, requiring iron foundries to install scrubbers and filters on their smokestacks, and most recently – banning the burning of cow dung cake as cooking fuel.