Air quality index trials begin in city
Trials to fix the air quality index (AQI) – a pollution measuring indicator used worldwide — for the city have started. The AQI has been created by the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) for the first time in the city.
The AQI uses 24-hour averages of pollutants having the most adverse effect on human health such as sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxide (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), ozone (O3), and particulate matter (PM 2.5 and PM 10), which can be inhaled into the lungs.
The index takes data on six major pollutants, gives a certain weightage to the constituents and arrives at a figure. The index has six categories of pollution levels — from ‘good’ to ‘severe’ — and the six bands are colour-coded to visually express the level of severity.
On April 28 the number was 79, which means ‘good’ or having minimal impact on health.
The creation of an AQI is part of the Centre’s plan to create a national index, the first phase of which was launched by the Prime Minister on April 6. Mumbai is part of the second phase that will also include Pune and Solapur. The MPCB collects data from its Bandra monitoring station to create the index.
VM Motghare, joint director, air pollution control, MPCB said, “After a recent meeting with members of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in Delhi, we will host a daily air quality index on our website from places like Bandra [Mumbai], Chandrapur, Solapur and Karve Road [Pune] on a trial basis.”
Motghare said the AQI from these locations will be available on the CPCB website as well. “Earlier, because of technical difficulties, information regarding the state’s pollution levels could not be traced under the national website,” he said.
Before the MPCB index, the AQI provided by the United States Consulate General — it established an air quality-monitoring programme in February — was the only data that could be used by Mumbaiites to compare the city’s pollution levels with other places. As opposed to hourly indexes released by the embassy, the MPCB’s index will be available a day late initially. Currently, AQI data available on MPCB’s website is from April 20 to April 28.
Experts said the AQI is important because it offers a standardised and simple way for citizens to interpret air pollution. Philip Earis, a scientist and resident of Bandra, said, “These new readings will allow Mumbai to track changes over time and alert citizens when pollution becomes especially hazardous,” he said.
Doctors are of the opinion that checking the quality of air that is being inhaled directly, from the comfort of a home, is a good idea. “If people know that the air they are breathing is hazardous in any way, they can campaign for better enforcement of regulations by the government,” said dermatologist Dr Vinay Gopalani.
On Wednesday, the United States Consulate General in Bandra recorded the city’s AQI at 81 at 7pm, which placed the city in the ‘moderate’ category with regard to air quality. The consulate’s figure for April 28 was similar.