Did you know that this Deepavali the city recorded high levels of air and noise pollution?

Deepavali, the festival of lights, is highly anticipated by the youngsters mainly for the fireworks that are synonymous with this festival.

And this year, it was no different. The sky and streets alike were lit up by a variety, like flower pots, chakras, rockets and novel ones like the shots ranging from seven to a 100.

The celebratory aspect aside, Deepavali is also a time when the cities record high levels of air and noise pollution. In fact, this year Chennai's Respirable Suspended Particulate Matter (RSPM) peaked with 1423 microgram/cubic metre recorded at Arumbakkam.

Even crowded areas like Triplicane whose RSPM measured only 94 prior to Deepavali day, recorded 498 on the day of the festivity. Considering the fact that the permissible limit is only 100 microgram/cubic metre, the reading is alarming.

Alarming because during Deepavali, the air is polluted by minute particle matter or carbon soot that are as small as 10 micron in size. Owing to their size, they easily enter our alveolar region in our body which contain the tiny air sacs in the lungs. This is where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide takes place. And since these particles get deposited in these air bags, the exchange of air gets disrupted, affecting normal breathing, explains K. Karthikeyan, Member-Secretary, Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board. “Also, the colourful fireworks you see contain heavy metals like Copper, Cadmium and Barium, continued exposure to which cause respiratory problems. But for one time-exposure during Deepavali, the damage might be minimal,” he adds.

You also have the rain to thank this time, as rains wash out the chemicals in the atmosphere. The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board had installed air and noise monitoring facilities at Sowcarpet, Triplicane, Ayanavaram, T.Nagar and Nungambakkam. '

Through these, the Board learnt that the noise levels had exceeded limits in all of these five places with Ayanavaram earning the title of the “noisiest area” in the city with a reading of 85.2 db. The permissible noise level in residential areas is 45 db during night time, 55 db during day.

Salavadeshwar, IX, P.S.B.B., K.K. Nagar, says, “I love Deepavali for the new clothes and the crackers we get to burst once every year. And yes, I was aware of the pollution aspects of the festival and that's why I decided to buy fewer crackers than usual. It's the sky shots and hydrogen bombs that I think cause maximum pollution.” He was also a victim of the noise pollution, he says, because he found it difficult to prepare for his exam scheduled two days after Deepavali.