Mumbai’s PM10 levels highest among 3 major coastal cities in India: Study

Updated on Aug 12, 2019 12:42 AM IST

80% increase recorded over 12 years; dust, industrial, vehicle emissions contribute most

While most cities witnessed mixed trends, particulate pollution rise was highest in Mumbai as compared to any other coastal city.(Pratik Chorge/HT Photo)
While most cities witnessed mixed trends, particulate pollution rise was highest in Mumbai as compared to any other coastal city.(Pratik Chorge/HT Photo)
Mumbai | By, Mumbai

With an 80% increase in the concentration of annual average particulate matter (PM) 10 - solid and liquid particles 10 microns or smaller, suspended in the air – witnessed over a 12-year period (2007-2018), Mumbai is the most polluted of the country’s three major coastal cities.

A compilation of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), Delhi, was presented during an air quality conference ‘Clearing the Air on Air Pollution’ on Friday. The data showed that PM10 levels over 12 years were above the safe limit of 60 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m3) every year. A drastic rise from 92µg/m3 in 2007 to 166µg/m3 in 2018 resulted in an 80.4% increase in concentration indicating a steady year-on-year decline. PM10 levels were the highest over the last three years.

While most cities witnessed mixed trends, particulate pollution rise was highest in Mumbai as compared to any other coastal city. The three-year average PM10 concentration for Mumbai stood at 149µg/m3 as compared to 126µg/m3 for Kolkata and 65µg/m3 for Chennai. The average PM10 level for warm and humid climatic zones in the country is 110µg/m3.

“The trend indicates that motorisation and development pressures in the city are leading to this increase, despite having the advantage of sea breeze. We need to take note of this by manoeuvring and designing a clean air action plan for effective reduction,” said Anumita Roy Chowdhury, executive director (research and advocacy), CSE.

SN Tripathi, professor, Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur and member of the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) apex committee, said, “Official data collated by CSE is extremely alarming for a city like Mumbai and of concern as national safe standards are being exceeded continuously. With the NCAP action plan underway, there is a need to conduct measurement-based source apportionment studies at least once in two years if not every year to track and address emission changes on priority.”

CSE also analysed winter 24-hour PM2.5 (fine toxic particles that stay in the air longer and can easily enter the respiratory system) concentration between October 2018 and February 2019 and found that levels in November were the highest (2.1 times the safe standard). Overall, there were 33% moderately-polluted days; 5% poor air quality days, and 1% very poor air pollution day. From November to February, PM2.5 concentration was above safe standards on most days.

Based on current emissions, a 60% reduction in emission sources is needed to meet the clean air standards as proposed under the NCAP action plan for various cities across India by the Centre. “While the NCAP target for the country is a reduction of 30%, when we translate it for individual cities, the target reduction is higher for each sector and in this case, it is 60% for Mumbai,” said Chowdhury. “To be able to achieve this, priority sectors will be transport, construction, waste burning and solid fuel usage.”

According to a source apportionment study for PM10 in Mumbai by researchers from UrbanEmissions.info, dust emissions account for 50% of all emissions. This is followed by 28% industrial emissions; 11% from the transport sector, and 3% each from waste burning, diesel generator sets, and brick kilns. Residential emissions account for 2%. “While information generation is one side of the story, we need the engagement of researchers, official bodies and society to realise the benefits of policies for clean air in Mumbai,” said Sarath Guttikunda, lead author, founder and director, Urbanemissions.info.

Doctors said all age groups had witnessed a surge in health ailments, with elderly citizens and children more prone to the impacts of air pollution. “PM2.5 and PM10 are gradually rising in Mumbai every year, with atmospheric pollutants increasing the potency of allergens,” said Dr Swapnil Mehta, consultant (pulmonology), Dr L H Hiranandani Hospital.

On June 5, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) said there had been a 6% decline in PM2.5 levels and 9% decline in PM10 levels across major cities in Maharashtra, including Mumbai, but could not support the claim with data.

“With an aim to reduce particulate pollution by 30% by 2025, we have begun work with all stakeholders across all 17 cities in Maharashtra including Mumbai. The state is extremely serious about the implementation,” said VM Motghare, joint director (air pollution), MPCB. “Reduction in private vehicles, boosting public transport network and recycling construction and demolition waste at source will be the focus points of the action plan.”

Mumbai has 19 air quality manual monitoring stations and 11 continuous monitoring (real-time) stations but researchers have highlighted that the city needs a total of 68 stations (another 38) to map detailed pollutant concentrations. Meanwhile, air quality monitoring stations that belong to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) have been dysfunctional for the past three years.

“Dust emissions over Mumbai are a matter of concern. We are working with MPCB on its action plan and addressing source-wise issues,” said Praveen Pardeshi, BMC commissioner. “As of now, expanding the city’s public transport system and discouraging private vehicles by modelling the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) services through increasing fleet size and ridership is the focus to improve air quality alongside tackling construction and demolition waste at source,” he added.

Apart from enhancing the public transport network, Sudhir Srivastava, chairman, MPCB, said the planned introduction of cleaner fuels, reducing resuspension of windblown dust from construction and demolition waste and paving of roads combined with an increase in the distribution of more LPG connections to slum areas were critical targets under NCAP for Mumbai. “As per directions by the Union environment ministry, we are pushing for the acquisition of street cleaning machines to address the issue of resuspension of dust,” he said. “We have identified the problem and there is a concentrated plan in place. Things are expected to fall in place and we should see significant improvement in Mumbai’s air quality as we go along,” he said.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Badri Chatterjee is an environment correspondent at Hindustan Times, Mumbai. He writes about environment issues - air, water and noise pollution, climate change - weather, wildlife - forests, marine and mangrove conservation

Close Story
QUICKREADS

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • Bengaluru man kills his wife for denying him sex. 

    Bengaluru electrician kills his wife for denying him sex : Report

    A Bihar man working and living in Bengaluru for the past two years allegedly murdered Pruthvi's wife after Jyothi Kumari refused to have sex with him, The Times of India reported. According to the report, nine months ago Pruthvi Raj Singh - who lived in the city's Madiwala area - married Jyothi Kumari. The report by The Times of India says Pruthvi and a friend, Sameer Kumar, hatched a plan to murder Jyothi.

  • Dr Sunil Sanon with the Khadi national flag presented to him by the Jaiprakash Agarwal family who got it from Mahatma Gandhi in 1946 during his visit to Mussoorie. (HT Photo)

    Tricolour gifted by Mahatma Gandhi preserved with utmost care by Mussoorie duo

    It has not been a matter of concern for a doctor duo, who has made it a point to preserve the Khadi Tricolour that was gifted to them by a Delhi-based family, which was passed down to them directly from Mahatma Gandhi. The prized gift became part of their lives when they were Gandhi's ardent followers and instrumental in conducting his prayer meetings whenever he visited Mussoorie.

  • Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar reminded Bima Bharti that she was twice made a minister “though she does not know how to speak and read”. (HT File/Santosh Kumar)

    ‘Sack minister or I quit’: JDU MLA’s public message to Nitish Kumar. He responds

    Janata Dal-United (JDU) legislator Bima Bharti on Thursday threatened to resign from the assembly and the party if chief minister Nitish Kumar doesn't drop food minister Leshi Singh from his cabinet, saying she was involved in extortion, murder and anti-party activities. She also blamed Leshi Singh for the defeat of her daughter in the district board elections. Bima Bharti represents Rupauli assembly segment; Leshi Singh is the legislator from the adjoining seat, Dhamdaha.

  • Finally, the kid turned the corner and went his way. The couple settled down to take a well-deserved break. My heart went out to these parents who like most human parents had no idea about parenting skills but only an intuition to guide them at being good parents. (HT Photo)

    Parenting: An intuitive skill in all creations

    The toughest job on earth is parenting. Despite there being tomes written about the skill, parenting is mostly intuitive. But at the end of the day, you are responsible for the physical, emotional and mental development of your child. For most parents, parenting is also about providing a safe environment for children. We go out of the way to protect our little ones.

  • Available at domestic arrival, this facility can be availed at hourly basis at the Chennai airport.

    Sleepzo: Now, you can take a quick nap at this Indian airport | Details here

    In its bid to make transit travelers more comfortable while waiting for their flights, the Chennai airport has launched its sleeping facility called 'Sleepzo'. The Airports Authority of India shared information about these sleeping capsules come with various amenities. Available at domestic arrival, this facility can be availed on an hourly basis at the Chennai airport. The video tweeted by Airports Authority of India shows compact, four sleeping pods being inaugurated.

SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Thursday, August 18, 2022
Start 15 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now