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Determining Spatial Patterns in Delhi's Ambient Air Quality Data Using Cluster Analysis

by Sumeet Saksena, Veena Joshi, and R. S. Patil

East-West Center Working Papers, Environmental Change, Vulnerability, and Governance Series, No. 53

Publisher: Honolulu: East-West Center
Publication Date: December 2002
Binding: paper
Pages: 28
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The purpose of this study was to examine the spatial patterns of ambient air quality in Delhi in the absence of extensive datasets needed for space-time modeling. A spatial classification was attempted on the basis of ambient air quality data of nine years (1998 is latest year for which published data was available) for three criteria pollutants—nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, and suspended particulate matter. A hierarchical agglomerative algorithm using the average linkage between groups method and the Euclidean distance metric was used. Cluster analysis indicated that until 1998, by and large, two distinct classes existed. The results of cluster analysis prompted an investigation of systematic biases in the monitored data. No statistically significant differences in the mean concentration of all pollutants were observed between stations belonging to different land-use types (residential and industrial). This fact would be useful, if and when the authorities consider modifying the network or expanding it in Delhi. The results also support the recommendation that Delhi have a uniform standard across all areas. This study has provided a methodology for Indian researchers, practitioners, and regulatory authorities to do an exploratory study of spatial patterns of air pollution and data quality issues in Indian cities using the National Ambient Air Quality Monitoring System data.