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Tamil Nadu - Chennai
'Bucket brigade' comes to check Chennai air

Mar 11, 2004
THE HINDU
Online edition of India's National Newspaper
By Our Staff Reporter
http://www.hindu.com/2004/03/11/stories/2004031113140600.htm

CHENNAI Chennaiites on Tuesday were introduced to the `bucket brigade,' a movement of people to sample the air they breathe.

Conceived by community activists in the United States, the brigade is all about a bucket with a detachable plastic bag inside. Air is drawn into the plastic bag, changing the pressure inside the bucket and sent to laboratory for testing.

The bucket has an airtight lid and is fitted with two nozzles. While the brass nozzle is fitted to a tube running down to a vacuum pump, the stainless nozzle is fixed to the mouth of a tedlar (form of polymer) plastic bag free from contaminants. As the vacuum pump operates, the pressure inside the bucket will go down sucking in air through the stainless steel nozzle into the tedlar bag. The bag can be detached, sealed and couriered to the laboratory for testing for volatile organic compounds, said Denny Larson, Director of Global Community Monitoring, an environmental group advocating the bucket brigade.

At a presentation, jointly organised by Toxics Link-Chennai and Citizens Consumer and Civic Action Group, Mr. Larson said buckets could be used to measure pollution levels or respond to emissions from chemical factories.

The scientific data generated from testing the air would force the industries to take note of pollution.

Shweta Narayan, representative of Community Environment Monitoring (CEM), said the bucket brigade was introduced in Cuddalore around the industrial estate of the Small Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu, where communities were subject to air and water pollution by chemical industries.

The CEM, a programme to help the community understand its stake in the environment and act accordingly, also introduced incident monitoring, water testing, air sampling and preparedness and emergency response to check the pollution level in the area.

While the tedlar bag cost about $ 15, testing the air sample would cost between $ 225 and $ 500 depending upon the parameters, Mr. Larson said.

Participants, who included pollution control board officials, environmentalists and academicians, raised queries on the availability of the bag in India, the cost of the tests, permeability of tedlar bags, the process of gaseous sampling and various other protocols.

Copyright 2004, The Hindu.

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