Filled with particulates, Gurugram air is unbreathable

Updated on Jun 22, 2018 09:28 AM IST
The HSPCB had earlier issued an advisory to the urban local bodies, recommending a ban on all construction activities for 48 hours at the peak of the dust storm in Gurugram
A Gurgaon traffic policeman wearing N95 Anti-Pollution mask distributed by a private hospital, due to increase the pollution level in Gurgaon city a private hospital distributed the 5000 n95 mask to Gurgaon traffic police, in Gurgaon, India.(HT File Photo)
A Gurgaon traffic policeman wearing N95 Anti-Pollution mask distributed by a private hospital, due to increase the pollution level in Gurgaon city a private hospital distributed the 5000 n95 mask to Gurgaon traffic police, in Gurgaon, India.(HT File Photo)
Hindustan Times, Gurugram | ByPrayag Arora-Desai, Gurugram

Following a brief period of respite after last week’s dust storm, air quality in the city has been deteriorating once again. According to data from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) website, the concentration of PM2.5 in the city air was 332.43ug/m3 (micrograms per cubic metre of air) on Thursday. The safe limit of PM2.5 is 60 ug/m3.

The ultra fine particles PM2.5, about 30 times finer than a human hair, are considered extremely harmful as they can penetrate deep into the lungs and cause severe diseases.

Recent turbulence in the atmosphere due to anti-cyclonic winds blowing from Rajasthan was responsible for carrying local PM2.5 pollutants to greater ‘mixing heights’, where they combine to create secondary pollutants called aerosols. Now that the dust storm has blown past the National Capital Region towards Uttar Pradesh, these secondary aerosols are settling down in larger quantities than usual, experts said.

According to Jai Bhagwan, the Haryana State Pollution Control Board’s (HSPCB) regional officer in Gurugram, this phenomenon was expected. “The situation will return to normal within two days,” he said.

The HSPCB had earlier issued an advisory to the urban local bodies, recommending a ban on all construction activities for 48 hours at the peak of the dust storm.

Bhagwan says that the advisory was implemented successfully by the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram and the District Town and Country Planning department. However, a scientist working with the Central Pollution Control Board’s Air Quality Lab in Delhi, who did not wish to be identified, said the current increase in PM2.5 could very well be the result of construction activities that were carried out in violation of the HSPCB’s advisory. Moreover, since the ban was lifted on Sunday, construction activities have been working at an increased pace to make up for lost time, contributing to the increase in PM2.5.

Sachin Panwar, an independent air quality consultant and alumnus of IIT-Delhi, said, “ This spike isn’t due to inert dust, like we saw last week. It is being caused by local pollutants which are more harmful.

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