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Toxic Sulfur Dioxide Emissions Fell Across India, Russia, and China Last Year–Dropping 6% Globally


With a large portion of the total world population, the people of China, India, Russia and the United States have dramatically helped and worked to reduce the levels of sulfur dioxide (SO2), a toxic air pollutant.


In 2019, levels of anthropogenic emissions of SO2 were reduced worldwide by 6%. For the second time only, SO2 emissions fell in the three countries most responsible for emitting it: China, India and Russia.

This was based on NASA satellite data that measured the levels of the colorless and mildly toxic gas that is generated from activities such as burning coal without scrubbers or other laboratory processes that remove sulfur before the coal is used, but also of certain road vehicles, chemicals. manufacturing, metal smelting for industry and some recycling procedures such as metal recycling.

In the United States, the trend has been one of almost continuous fall: from the 1970s, when 31 million US tons of SO2 were created by human activities, to now, when the figure rises to 2.17 million. A loss of 300,000 US tons from the 2018-2019 figures means that the country is also joining these three other powerful nations in reducing SO2 emissions of late.

India was the state that experienced the biggest decline. As some coal plants have closed and the country sees increased use of renewables, the result has been 414,000 tonnes less of SO2 produced in the US.

During the same period, China experienced a 5% drop, which while the slowest drop of this decade, is still impressive, and the country has reduced SO2 emissions by 87% since 2011. This was mainly due to increased use of fuel scrubbers. and refineries in the country.

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Russia claimed the largest percentage drop: 8%, which translates to roughly 340,000 US tons of toxic gas. The amount of SO2 created by burning oil, coal and gas is actually less than the amount produced by volcanoes that are confined within its borders, much of which comes from the extremely volcanic Kamchatka Peninsula on the other side. of the Strait of Alaska.

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