Mumbai saw 132 good, 23 very poor air days in 2019: SAFARUpdated: Dec 31, 2019, 00:38 IST
Thanks to extreme weather events this monsoon, including five cyclones in the Arabian Sea, Mumbai had the maximum number of days with low levels of air pollution this year since 2017, according to the System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) in its year-end report. However, the number of ‘very poor’ air quality days was the highest in 2019 compared to readings from the past three years.
For its report, SAFAR, which began monitoring the city’s air quality in 2015, analysed data collected between January 1 and December 29. SAFAR categorises air quality index (AQI) levels for PM2.5 pollutant – small pollutant particles of 2.5 micron size that can easily enter lungs and cause ailments – between 0-50 as good; 51-100 satisfactory; 101-200 moderate; 201-300 poor; 301-400 very poor; and 401 above as severe.
Mumbai recorded 23 ‘very poor’ air quality days, all in the month of January. In 2018, Mumbai had only four days with ‘very poor’ air quality (mostly during Diwali), and in 2017, it had 17 ‘very poor’ days. On the bright side, the city recorded 132 ‘good’ air quality days, accounting for 36% of the year. Last year, 28% fell under the ‘good’ category, and in 2017, 22% had ‘good’ air quality.
“Almost five months of monsoon impact along with extreme weather events in the Arabian Sea kept pollution at bay for most of the year,” said Gufran Beig, project director, SAFAR, adding that efforts by state bodies and citizens to address air pollution have also impacted air pollution levels.
This year, temperatures were the lowest in January and air pollution levels rose to hazardous levels. “During January, AQI tends to fall to its lowest for Mumbai as pollutants get suspended closer to the surface due to high humidity and calm winds, forming a boundary layer,” said Beig.
Altogether, there were 90 days this year when the AQI was ‘satisfactory’; 82 were ‘moderate’ ones; and 36 were ‘poor’. According to the forecast issued by SAFAR on Monday, the AQI is likely to be 204 (poor) on January 1, 2020. This would be the lowest AQI on New Year’s day since 2015. This year, on January 1, the AQI was 253 (poor).