A layer of smog on Mumbai’s horizon on Saturday showed the rising levels of pollution in the air you breathe. Experts and scientists said with the humidity increasing, the pollutants, mixed with the moisture, caused the smog.
“Moisture levels in the air are high .As the summer patterns are setting in, westerly winds coming from the sea carry a lot of moisture,” said KS Hosalikar, deputy director general, India Meteorological Department.
The United States Embassy and Consulates’ Air Quality Monitor ranked Mumbai city under the ‘very unhealthy’ Air quality Index (AQI) on Saturday. AQI for particulate matter (PM 2.5) in Bandra area was calculated to be 218, which indicates, ‘significant increase in respiratory effects in general population.’
“With summer approaching, pollutants in the air mix with the moisture, causing the smog. Dust from construction, vehicles and various other pollution-causing factors add to this,” said Rakesh Kumar, chief scientist, National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (Neeri).
For an AQI of 218, the Air Quality Monitor advisory states: ‘People with heart or lung disease, older adults and children avoid all physical activity outdoors.’
“Sulphur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen and carbon dioxide – the main pollutants in the air – are irritants to the airway. Depending on the size of particulate matter and where they deposit themselves in the lung, they can cause inflammation and definitely decrease lung capacity, leading to breathlessness and at a later stage asthma, bronchitis or even lung damage, ” said Dr Sanjeev Mehta, pulmonologist (chest specialist) at Lilavati Hospital, Bandra.
According to latest data available from the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) website from March 19, the levels of oxides of Nitrogen (NOx) and respirable particulate matter (RSPM) in the city were high.
The normal standard for both are between 0-100 microgrammes per cubic metre. In the city, NOx was calculated at 229 while RSPM was at 111. The MPCB could not be reached for a comment.
Environmentalist Stalin D said, “Concrete structures are built in such a way that the air carrying pollutants gets trapped within the city. We are responsible in creating a heated and polluted island. At the present rate, Mumbai may soon beat Delhi in terms of pollution levels.”