We all know that Mumbai’s roads are crowded and polluted. But the air you breathe at home may not be as clean and safe as you think either.
A detailed study of the indoor air quality in Mumbai’s households by the reputable National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Worli, has found carbon concentration in fine particulate matter within homes to be far higher than the permissible limit of 60 micrograms per cubic metre of air (ug/m3).
The study at four locations across the city – Colaba, Dadar, Khar and Mahul – found fine aerosol particles (particulate matter measuring less than 2.5 microns) comprising carbon, dust, soot, smoke and liquid droplets, which are responsible for respiratory and cardiovascular ailments, to be at least 80 ug/m3 on an average. The recordings outdoors at the four spots too were above permissible limits at 84ug/m3.
A four-member NEERI team made the recordings over three seasons between 2007 and 2008 and, worryingly, the researchers say the pollution level could now have gone up 20 per cent taking into consideration the increase in vehicular traffic and of construction projects.
“As buildings in Mumbai are coming close to each other, indoor air quality is an important issue. While outdoor air gets cleaned because of land and sea breeze over the city, the same doesn’t happen with indoor air,” said Rakesh Kumar, director of NEERI’s Mumbai centre. “The easiest solution to clean up indoor air is creating a good ventilation system.”
“We spend a lot of time indoors and assume the air we breathe at home, workplace, schools or colleges is clean compared to outdoors. Studies in the West have proved that long term exposure to particulate matter leads to chronic ailments such as cardiovascular diseases, lung cancer, asthma and bronchitis,” said professor Abba Elizabeth Joseph, lead researcher of the four-member NEERI team.