Pollution check: Just one monitoring station to check Gurugram’s air quality
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Pollution check: Just one monitoring station to check Gurugram’s air quality

Only one monitoring station is operated in the city by the Central Pollution Control Board at Vikas Sadan, which collects hourly data about ambient air conditions. However, data obtained at this one station does not hold true for the entire city.

delhi Updated: Jun 16, 2018 09:10 IST
Prayag Arora Desai
Prayag Arora Desai
Gurugram, Hindustan Times
Gurugram pollution,Air quality,Gurgaon pollution
On Friday, the AQI for Gurugram was 474, down from 485 on Wednesday. PM2.5 continues to be the primary air pollutant, with its level at 415.6ug/m3 (micrograms per cubic metre of air), down from Wednesday’s 461.11 ug/m3. (Yogendra Kumar/HT File Photo)

Despite looming concerns about air pollution, Gurugram lacks adequate infrastructure to monitor air quality in the city, experts say.

Only one monitoring station is operated in the city by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) at Vikas Sadan, which collects hourly data about ambient air conditions. The national Air Quality Index (AQI), released each day by the CPCB, relies on this data. However, data obtained at this one station does not hold true for the entire city.

“Certain areas will be more polluted than the others,” said Sachin Panwar, an independent air quality consultant and Gurugram resident, who recommended that at least one monitor be installed in each of Gurugram’s four zones.

On Friday, the AQI for Gurugram was 474, down from 485 on Wednesday. PM2.5 continues to be the primary air pollutant, with its level at 415.6ug/m3 (micrograms per cubic metre of air), down from Wednesday’s 461.11 ug/m3.

In December 2017, the Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) planned that it would install 19 additional monitoring units across the state, which is likely to be done by September.

“Every NCR district in the state, including Gurugram, will become capable of conducting extensive air quality tests before the onset of winter,” HSPCB Gurugram regional officer Jai Bhagwan said.

By comparison, the Delhi Pollution Control Board operates 30 air quality monitors in the national capital.

Namita Gupta, an air quality expert in Gurugram, recommended one monitor for every five square kilometres of the city, explaining that the data would help authorities identify local sources of pollutants. “There is definitely a need for more monitors, because there is a need for more robust, actionable data,” she said.

Dipankar Saha, former head of the CPCB’s air quality lab, offered a broader solution to this dilemma. “We need a combination of automatic and manual systems to track air quality,” he said. Automatic systems, like Vikas Sadan, provide real-time data. “These need to be supplemented with enough manual testing, which involves collecting air samples and testing them in a lab,” said Saha.

Unlike automated systems, which are only quantitative, manual testing is necessary to ascertain the exact nature of airborne pollutants. “It will tell you how much PM2.5 you are breathing, but also tell you how toxic the PM2.5 really is,” Saha explained. Manual testing is especially important in winter months, when secondary aerosols in the air create smog.

As an interim measure, Gupta suggested that the CPCB start providing certification to private monitors. “It will lend credibility to our data, and make those who own private monitors more accountable,” she said.

This data can then be released by the CPCB to give citizens a better idea of pollution in their immediate vicinity.

First Published: Jun 16, 2018 09:07 IST