This Diwali, pollution in city may be more than last year | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
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This Diwali, pollution in city may be more than last year

Expect high pollution levels in the city over the next four days, much more than last Diwali, said researchers from the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) on Friday.

mumbai Updated: Oct 29, 2016 01:07 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Diwali
Children burn fire cracker at Dadar in Mumbai, on Friday.(Satyabrata Tripathy)

Expect high pollution levels in the city over the next four days, much more than last Diwali, said researchers from the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) on Friday.

According to SAFAR, the air quality index (AQI) — pollutant measuring indicator — is expected to be as high as 334, falling under the ‘very poor’ category a day after Diwali this year, as compared to 313 recorded a day after Diwali last year, which was one of the most polluted days in Mumbai in 2015.

“People with existing heart or lung diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart disease or ischemic heart disease should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion. Everyone else should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion,” read a health impact statement issued by SAFAR on the basis of their forecast.

SAFAR monitors and predicts air quality at 10 locations in Mumbai on a real-time basis. Pollution levels are predicted by calculating weather factors such as windspeed, moisture, temperatures and amount of local emissions using high-resolution atmospheric chemistry transport prediction model on a supercomputer.

The report identified that the most striking factor was that the share of PM 2.5 (small pollutant particles that can enter the lungs) in PM10 (slightly larger, coarser particles) are expected to increase by 10-20% during Diwali as compared to normal days.

Air quality levels are expected to be ‘poor’ on Saturday at 235, Sunday, which is Diwali day (259), and Tuesday (245). 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.

Researchers from SAFAR said the peak pollution hours are expected between Sunday night (October 30) and Monday morning (October 31) between 11pm to 3am. “A higher level of pollution may be observed at night after Diwali, based on our hourly model forecast. A combination of several weather parameters plays a role in controlling air pollution. At present, the most dominating weather parameter is wind speed, which is low and will allow pollutants to be trapped closer to the earth’s surface,” said Gufran Beig, scientist at Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) and project director, SAFAR.

Officials said firecrackers will be an additional source for the rise in pollution levels. “It is expected that combustion at higher temperatures will emit fine particles of particulate matter along with already prevailing pollutants in the air. Closer to Diwali, we will update our figures to get accurate sources of pollutants and AQI,” said Neha S Parkhi, senior programme officer, SAFAR.

The forecast identified four locations in Mumbai as ‘high-risk locations’ during Diwali – Nerul (highest pollution expected here), followed by Chembur, Borivli and Malad. Colaba was identified as the location where least pollution is expected. Remaining locations such as Mazgaon, Andheri, Worli, Bhandup and Bandra-Kurla-Complex (BKC) are expected to have ‘moderate’ pollution levels.

Meanwhile, the city recorded a ‘poor’ AQI on Friday at 203 with BKC being the most polluted with an AQI of 276, followed by Andheri at 223.