Mumbai pollution at dangerous levels

  • Snehal Rebello & Badri Chatterjee, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Jan 19, 2016 01:07 IST

The dust released during construction and demolition activities across Mumbai has taken particulate matter (PM) with diameter of 10 microns or less — PM10 — to as much as 20 times the permissible limit, revealed a study by the Environment Policy and Research India (EPRI).

The EPRI study found that average concentration of PM10 at four different construction sites — Dr Ambedkar Road, Lower Parel; Wadala; Panjrapol, Chembur; and Kapurbawdi, Thane — ranged from 170 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3) to as high as 1295µg/m3. The permissible limit is 100µg/m3.

“India needs to have an emission factor for different kinds of construction activities, to predict the pollution load that will help developers to take measures to mitigate emissions,” said Avick Sil, regional director, EPRI, adding that even Bangladesh has emission norms for construction.

And if this was not bad enough, the tiniest particulate matter of diameter less than one micron (PM1) with no prescribed danger limit has increased three times in six months, as per data from the System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR). In July, the concentration of PM1 was 15µg/m3, which went up to 45µg/m3 in December.

“These small pollutant particles (PM) can cause respiratory diseases and are mainly released from paved and unpaved road dust, open burning, fuel combustion in stationary sources, burning of fossil fuels such as coal, wood, dry grass, and construction activity,” said Neha S Parkhi, senior programme manager, SAFAR.

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