Mumbai’s air quality was second worst in the country last year: CPCB | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
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Mumbai’s air quality was second worst in the country last year: CPCB

lhi ranked first with the worst pollution levels for PM10 (268 microgram per cubic metre - µg/m3) and PM2.5 (111 µg/m3)

mumbai Updated: Sep 17, 2017 01:53 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Scientists from CPCB said that a 10-city source apportionment study for pollution levels was underway and will be published in 2018.
Scientists from CPCB said that a 10-city source apportionment study for pollution levels was underway and will be published in 2018.(Hindustan Times)

The air you were breathing all of last year was the second-most polluted in the country, according to a 10-city air quality study by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

The study looked at the air quality annual average levels between 2013 and 2016 for sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and particulate matter (PM10, PM2.5 — small pollutants less than 10 microns and 2.5 microns that can easily enter our lungs and cause ailments).

While Delhi ranked first with the worst pollution levels for PM10 (268 microgram per cubic metre - µg/m3) and PM2.5 (111 µg/m3), Mumbai ranked second for PM2.5 (72 µg/m3) and third for PM10 (155 µg/m3) after Jaipur (180 µg/m3) in 2016. The annual average safe limit for PM10 is 60µg/m3 and 40µg/m3 for PM2.5.

Pune’s air had the highest concentration of sulphur dioxide (SO2) at 26 µg/m3 and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) at 73µg/m3 in 2016 owing to large number of vehicles (mostly two-wheelers) and industries in and around the city, said CPCB officials. The annual average safe limit for SO2 is 20µg/m3 and NO2 is 30µg/m3.

PM10 levels at all 10 cities were above permissible standards while PM2.5 levels were above safe limits at five of the 10 cities including– Bangalore (60µg/m3), Hyderabad (54µg/m3) and Kolkata (68µg/m3) – apart from Mumbai and Delhi.

“The country faces a serious pollution problem when it comes to particulate matter, primarily dust pollution, which gets aggravated during the winter months,” said A Sudhakar, member secretary, CPCB. “Our analysis in 2017 so far under the National Air Quality Monitoring Programme (NAMP) has found that 94 cities in India have pollution levels for PM10 above safe limits, 16 cities above safe limits for PM2.5 and five cities for NO2. Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bangalore, are four cities that factor in all three categories.”

The cleanest air last year was recorded in Chennai with the lowest levels for all four pollutants, the comparative study found. “Meteorological factors play a significant role in dispersing pollutants in these cities. Chennai has lesser number of vehicles as compared to other megacities and high wind speed that allows faster dispersion. However, a city like Mumbai, which has similar weather conditions is not able to sustain clean air during winters because of the sheer volume of vehicles and high construction activity,” said Sudhakar.

He also added that to find a faster solution to the pollution problem, the central government needs to sensitise citizens rather than pass resolutions and restrictions. “We need to move in a uniform direction as a society, work alongside the government and accept that India faces a serious threat from pollution. As a vibrant society, we like to celebrate festivals such as Diwali using firecrackers and are used to road dust on our city streets. At the same time, the government needs to develop policies taking the public into consideration to tackle this issue,” said Sudhakar.

India and China had the largest number of deaths owing to PM2.5 in 2015, a 2017 Lancet study had found. India ranked the second-highest in the world — 133.5 deaths per 1,00,000 people in 2015.

Scientists from CPCB said that a 10-city source apportionment study for pollution levels was underway and will be published in 2018. “Apart from vehicular pollution and construction dust, road dust from paved and unpaved roads is a major source of particulate pollution. During winters, landlocked and coastal cities are bearing the brunt of open burning and during summers fires at landfills are reducing the air quality,” said D Saha, additional director and in-charge of air quality monitoring, CPCB.