AGRA, India, Jan. 5 (UPI) -- The Taj Mahal, India's 366-year old tourist attraction of white marble, is turning yellowish-brown because of airborne pollutants, a study indicates.
The mausoleum, which attracted six million tourists in 2013, is changing color because of dust and carbon particles from nearby burning of fossil fuels, biomass and garbage, the academic paper published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology said. The research was performed by scientists of the United States' University of Wisconsin and the Georgia Institute of Technology, with the Indian Institute of Technology at Kanpur and the Archeological Survey of India.
The particles come from a number of sources, S.N. Tripathi, one of the study's authors, told the Voice of America.
"We have (an) increasing fleet of diesel vehicles nowadays in cities, large vehicles, trucks, that's number one, and that is a major emission source for black carbon and organic carbon. But biomass burning, particularly the season now, we are seeing people, when they feel cold, they burn any kind of stuff. People, maybe in houses, they are burning just wood etc., but outside the people are burning cow dung and different kinds of trash. Burning is also a major source of organic carbon."
About 30 percent of the pollutants on the marble surface of the structure are of organic carbon, also known as brown carbon, released by the burning of garbage, a typical practice in the region. About three percent are of black carbon, found in automobile exhaust. For the past 10 years, vehicles have not been allowed within 500 meters (1,640 feet) of the Taj Mahal grounds.