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Why Mumbai’s air is far worse than Delhi’s today

Mumbai’s air quality on Monday was slightly better as compared to the last four days but pollution levels continued to be of ‘very poor’ category after last week’s fire at the Deonar landfill.

mumbai Updated: Feb 01, 2016 15:43 IST
Badri Chatterjee
According to the System for Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), the air quality index (AQI) - a pollution measuring indicator - was observed at 308 at 9.30am on Monday which is an improvement from Sunday’s high of 333
According to the System for Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), the air quality index (AQI) - a pollution measuring indicator - was observed at 308 at 9.30am on Monday which is an improvement from Sunday’s high of 333(HT Photo)

Mumbai’s air quality on Monday was slightly better as compared to the last four days but pollution levels continued to be ‘very poor’ after last week’s fire at the Deonar landfill.

In fact, the air quality in Mumbai remained far worse than Delhi on Monday morning.

Read more: No respite: Mumbai suffers as smoke from Deonar dump poisons air

According to the System for Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), the air quality index (AQI) - a pollution measuring indicator - was observed at 308 at 9.30am on Monday which is an improvement from Sunday’s high of 333. It was 318 on Saturday and 345 on Friday, which was the highest since air quality forecasting began in June. SAFAR predicted that the AQI level will continue to be of ‘very poor’ category on Tuesday with an estimated AQI of 312.

On Monday, seven out of 10 locations in Mumbai where SAFAR monitors air quality were in ‘very poor’ levels. While Chembur continued to be the most polluted location for the fourth day in a row with an AQI of 363, other locations like Andheri recorded 355 and Malad, Mazgaon both recorded 330.

Read more: Mumbai chokes with pollution levels on rise

Deonar fire controlled, not doused

The fire that began at the dumping ground in Deonar on Wednesday night was controlled by fire tenders and officials from the civic body over the weekend. However, small fires at isolated pockets could still be seen on Monday morning.

Air pollutants such as particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5) that add to haze were the main pollutants released from the fire, researchers from SAFAR said. While PM10 released at locations closer to the dumping ground that lowered air quality levels along the eastern suburbs, smaller and lighter PM2.5 pollutants spread across the rest of the city, pushing AQI levels up to 333.

“Fire tenders are still at the spot trying to douse the small fires at individual locations before it begins to spread again,” said an official from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s solid waste management division.

High humidity

The weather is adding to Mumbai’s woes. Moisture levels on Monday morning were very high as weather stations at south Mumbai and the suburbs recorded 91% and 93% respectively.

“Meteorological conditions like high humidity and low temperatures further aggravated the pollution problem, but over the next 24 to 48 hours, we expect Mumbai’s air quality to fall under the ‘poor’ category as opposed to current ‘very poor’ levels,” said Gufran Beig, project director, SAFAR.

Warm winter

Temperature recorded between 8.30am on Sunday and 8.30am on Monday was up by 2 degrees Celsius above normal.

While the weather station at Colaba recorded 21.2 degrees Celsius, 1.8 degree Celsius above normal, the temperature at the Santacruz station was at recorded at 18.6 degrees Celsius, which was 1.5 degree Celsius above normal.

Day temperatures, however, were closer to normal levels.

Weathermen have predicted mainly clear skies with day and night temperatures at 32 degrees Celsius and 19 degrees Celsius respectively.