Air quality levels monitored in 13 locations indicate we’re polluting less by 31.6 per cent

Did Bangaloreans go easy on firecrackers this Deepavali? Data released by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB), monitoring ambient air quality levels round-the-clock in 13 locations across the city, indicate that they did.

So, compared to the three days of Deepavali in 2012, KSPCB’s computations claim that overall pollution levels are down by 31 per cent. This figure represents an average of the increase and decrease percentages of three vital air quality indicators — sulphur dioxide level, nitrogen dioxide level and RSPM (Respirable Suspended Particulate Matter, that is particles that are smaller than 10 micrometers).

Individually while sulphur dioxide level remained the same this Deepavali compared to last year, the two other indicators are down: nitrogen dioxide is down by 20.6 per cent, while RSPM is lesser by 42.6 per cent. Some areas which bucked the positive trend are Yeshwantpur, Victoria Road and Central Silk Board junction. Among industrial areas, the Visvesvaraya Industrial Layout saw some increased indicators.

Still up by 34 per cent

But does this mean that firecrackers are not choking our lungs during the festival season? No. The good news is in the relative pollution levels compared to last year. But when pollution levels recorded on Deepavali were compared to that on normal days, pollution is up by 34 per cent.

A break up of that statistic shows that sulphur dioxide levels are up by 47.3 per cent, nitrogen dioxide by 23 per cent and RSPM by 31.7 per cent. Areas that saw the highest levels of pollution rise during Deepavali were Yeshwanthpur, Central Silk Board and Nagarabhavi, all residential areas. RSPM levels even exceeded permissible limits in five places during Deepavali including Yeshwanthpur, Central Silk Board, Indira Gandhi Child Care Centre and Visvesvaraya Industrial Layout.

KSPCB officials say that the reduction in pollution levels is significant and worth cheering. “Apart from NGOs even the government did a lot, particularly in schools, to create awareness,” says B. Nagappa, scientific officer, KSPCB. He said both sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide did not exceed permissible limits.

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