Air pollution in Mumbai was ‘poor’ on Sunday, above the predicted air quality index (AQI) – a pollutant-measuring indicator for Diwali by the System for Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR).
Researchers, however, said air pollution levels on Monday may improve, citing an increase in wind speed.
The city recorded an AQI of 274 (poor) on Sunday morning that dropped to 269 (poor) by the evening, above the prediction of 259 for Laxmi Puja.
“As of now, our prediction stands. However, we observed an increase in wind speed on Sunday, which is expected to continue on Monday. This will lead to a dispersion of pollutants faster and the AQI levels could be less than what has been predicted,” said Neha S Parkhi, senior programme officer, SAFAR.
Two locations in Mumbai — Andheri and Malad — recorded AQI levels at 306 and 311, falling under the ‘very poor’ category. The remaining seven locations out of 10, where AQI is monitored and forecasted by SAFAR, recorded ‘poor’ AQI levels on Sunday. For the third day in a row, Navi Mumbai recorded a ‘very poor’ AQI at 309.
SAFAR officials said pollution levels might go up further between Sunday night and Monday morning, between 11pm and 3am, identified as the peak pollution hours.
Researchers from SAFAR had predicted a ‘very poor’ AQI for Monday at 334, subject to additional source of pollutants from firecrackers.
AQI levels between 201-300 fall under the ‘poor’ category and 301-400 is ‘very poor’, indicating a health risk for people sensitive to air pollution. The readings for Sunday were slightly better than last year as the city had recorded an AQI of 279 on November 11, Diwali 2015.
Meanwhile, residents said the number of firecrackers until 8pm on Sunday were less as compared to previous years. “Polluting firecrackers such as rocket bombs and series crackers were less in number a day before Diwali and until Sunday evening. Most people are aware of the harmful effects and have not spent unnecessarily on them this year,” said Sion resident Ravi Kumbhad.