In news: According to a new analysis by Greenpeace, India is the largest emitter of SO2 in the world with more than 15% of all the anthropogenic sulphur dioxide (SO2) hotspots detected by NASA OMI (Ozone Monitoring Instrument) satellite. 

  •  Almost all of these emissions in India are because of coal burning.

Highlight of the report: 

  • Source Of SO2
    •  The largest source of SO2 in the atmosphere is the burning of fossil fuels in power plants and other industrial facilities. 
      • Other sources of SO2 emissions include processes such as extracting metal from ore; running of locomotives, ships and other vehicles that burn fuel with a high sulfur content, along with natural sources such as volcanoes.
  • Reasons
    • The primary reason for India’s high emission output is the expansion of coal-based electricity generation over the past decade.
    •  The vast majority of power plants in India lack flue-gas desulfurization technology to reduce their air pollution.
  • Impacts
    • Sulphur dioxide is responsible for the formation of high resistance, visible corrosion layers on all except most noble metals (e.g. silver and gold) and alloys. 
    • The SO2 gas contributes to the formation of acid rain. It is also a precursor for sulphate aerosols, a type of suspended particle that can affect the properties of clouds and also lead to outbreaks of haze and other health and climate problems. 
  • SO2 Emission Hotspots
    • The Greenpeace study finds that Singrauli, Neyveli, Talcher, Jharsuguda, Korba, Kutch, Chennai, Ramagundam, Chandrapur and Koradi are the major SO2 emission hotspots in India.  
    • The report also highlights other hotspots across the globe with the Norilsk smelter complex in Russia as the largest SO2 emission hotspot in the world, followed by Kriel in Mpumalanga province in South Africa and Zagroz in Iran.