The level of sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) in the city is much less than the permissible limits, but the level of Respirable Suspended Particulate Matter (RSPM) is a matter of concern, as it has been found above the permissible limit.
As per the UT’s ‘state of environment report 2014’, released on the World Environment Day by the adviser Vijay Kumar Dev at Elante Mall, the level of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide is below the permissible limit set by the ‘National Ambient Air Quality Standards 2009’.
As per the report, the major cause of pollution is the rise in the number of vehicles, industries and burning of dry leaves. It mentions that RSPM level has surpassed the permissible limit. The average RSPM level for 2014 was 105 microgram per cubic metre (mpcm), which is higher than the desired limit of 60 mpcm. But RSPM level has decreased in comparison to 2013, when it was 125 mpcm.
The report mentions that the city’s air quality is much healthier than most of the cities in the country, while giving credit to the strict traffic management, green cover and regular checks on industries. The report also mentions that Chandigarh is ranked highest in the country on human development index and quality of life.
On higher RSPM level, the report says the city has high vehicular density with 9.75 lakh registered vehicles. Besides that traffic from neighbouring (Haryana, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh) also adds up to the pollution level in the city. “High level of RSPM needs to be checked and we are working on it. The increase in number of vehicles, burning of crop residues, pollens and dust storms also contribute to the same,” said director (environment), Santosh Kumar.
Interestingly, the RSPM level goes up due to presence of pollens in the air. The city has a variety of trees which release pollens, leading to higher RSPM level. The level of RSPM also varies with increase and decrease in temperature. The RSPM count starts decreasing when the temperature starts rising from February to April. RSPM monitoring in Chandigarh has been performed at five different locations — Industrial Area, Phase 1; Punjab Engineering College (University of Technology), Sector 11; Commercial Complex, Sector 17; IMTECH, Sector 39 and Kaimbwala. The highest level of RSPM was observed in Industrial Area, Phase 1.
WHAT IS RSPM
Respirable Suspended Particulate Matter (RSPM) is suspended particulates, less than 10 micrometers in diameter. The particles can be easily inhaled and can get accumulated in the alveoli (tiny air sacs in the lungs). This slows down the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood.