The temple city of Tirupati, a cultural centre and a major pilgrimage destination in southern India, might be succumbing to a phenomenon common to urban areas. There has been steady rise in population and the usage of vehicles here, which in turn contribute to increasing pollution levels of the city, a study by city-based researchers has revealed.

The presence of eight hazardous air pollutants has been confirmed in the city’s atmosphere, says a research paper authored by Y.V. Rami Reddy, Associate Professor at Sri Venkateswara University’s Department of Chemistry and P. Muni Nagendra, a scientist at Hyderabad’s First Source Laboratory, pointed out.

Speaking to The Hindu, Prof. Reddy and Dr. Nagendra quoted recent studies on Particulate Matter (PM10), which attributed 82 per cent of particulate pollution in urban areas to vehicular emissions and road dust.

“We collected air dust samples from ten busy locations in the city and analysed them through techniques like ICP-MS, ICP-OES and AAS. Pollutants (less than one micron) like arsenic, beryllium, benzene, benzo (a) pyrene, cadmium, chromium, nickel, lead and manganese have been found in the ambient air,” they said.

Increased construction activities, vehicular emissions, road dust, burning of wood/biomass, emissions from diesel generators etc., were to blame for the rising pollutions levels, Prof. Reddy said. “Though some elements are found in low concentrations, they can exert considerable influence on a range of health issues and environmental processes,” he added.

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