Fine particulate matter fouling up Ghaziabad, Noida air, keeps residents indoors
Health experts said the spike has been due to increased instances of biomass burning in neighbouring states and also due to indiscriminate bursting of firecrackers on Diwali
The post-Diwali air in Ghaziabad and Noida has been polluted by fine particulate matter (PM)2.5 and PM10, which are about three times higher the national safe limits, data compiled by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) showed.
According to CPCB, the average PM2.5 and PM10 levels five days after Diwali stood at 194 and 303, respectively, for Ghaziabad and 194 and 302, respectively, for Noida.
The two cities have four each of online ambient air quality monitoring stations in operation. The standard limit is 60 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m3) for PM2.5 and 100 µg/m3 for PM10.
Health experts said the spike has been due to increased instances of biomass burning in neighbouring states and also due to indiscriminate bursting of fire crackers on Diwali.
Particulate matter are generally a mixture of microscopic solid and liquid droplets suspended in air. PM 2.5 and PM 10, or particles with 2.5 and 10 micron diameters, are considered dangerous because these are of respirable size, and can travel down to the lowest part of human lungs, where gas exchange takes place. Winds stir up particulate matter into the atmosphere. Particulate matter is also released when fossil fuels are burnt.
When one breathes air laced with dust particles, it can have both short- and long-term health impacts, depending on the duration of exposure. When AQI is poor, there can be “breathing discomfort to most people on prolonged exposure”, according to the Central Pollution Control Board’s health warning.
“The governments should bring in legislations to ban biomass burning but it may not go through due to political reasons. I have asked my family to stay indoors and I myself stopped going on morning walks since the past one month. When I stepped out, I suffered a bout of cough. The windows of my house remain closed throughout the day and I have brought more oxygen releasing plants at home. Air purifiers for rooms remain a costly proposition,” said Sanjeev Sethi, resident of Sector 107, Noida.
“All members in my family stay indoors or use a face mask while stepping out. Cough and cold have become common in households these days, exacerbated by the onset of winter. With such conditions, I am seriously considering relocating to a cleaner locale in the next three or four years,” said Mohan Sangwan, resident of Indirapuram.
The officials of Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) said local pollution abatement measures under the graded response action plan (Grap) are already in place.
“The effect of higher PM2.5 and PM10 is due to instances of biomass burning and also due to meteorological factors. The low wind speed has not allowed the accumulated pollutants on Diwali to disperse. Hence, the conditions in the region,” said Utsav Sharma, regional officer of UPPCB, Noida.
The environmentalists said roadside dust and traffic congestion result in accumulation of particulate matter.
“The bursting of firecrackers on Diwali has worsened the pollution scenario apart from the other local factors. There is smog in the air and the conditions have impacted the health of many residents. Under such prevailing conditions, the local pollution abatement measures hardly make an impact,” said Akash Vashishtha, an environment lawyer.