While the nation’s capital is a gas chamber with the ambient air quality deteriorating to a new low forcing the authorities to declare a medical emergency, people of Mysuru can breathe easy. The pollution levels in Mysuru are way below the upper limit set by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and it is almost 40 times below the pollution levels in Delhi.
Data from the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) in Mysuru indicated that the air quality in Mysuru could be considered safe based on the levels of particulate matter for dust concentration of size less than 2.5 microns (referred as PM 2.5) and 10 microns (PM 10) of which the former is deadly and its elevated levels in air can be debilitating to one’s health causing severe respiratory diseases which could be fatal.
As against the CPCB air standards of 60 micrograms per cubic meter for PM 10, the annual mean as measured at K.R. Circle — where the vehicle density and hence pollution levels are significantly higher — was 50.83. Similarly, as against an upper limit of 40 micrograms per cubic meter for PM 2.5, the annual mean hovered around 27.20, according to B.M. Prakash, Environmental Officer, KSPCB, Mysuru. The air quality at the second measuring point at the Industrial Area was more or less similar.
He told The Hindu that other pollutants namely nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, lead, and ammonia were also within the range. In case of sulphur dioxide, the average level was 2.13 against the limit of 50 micrograms per cubic meter, while it was 18.9 in case of nitrogen dioxide as against the upper limit of 40 micrograms per cubic meter.
“The lead content in air was below the detectable levels and to that extent Mysuru air was good as per the air quality index categorisation,” Mr. Prakash said.
However, it falls short of the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines — but not by a very large margin – with respect to PM 2.5 and PM 10 pollutants. The WHO guideline stipulates an annual mean of 10 micrograms per cubic meter for PM 2.5 pollutants and 20 micrograms per cubic meter for PM 10. Incidentally, the air quality of Mysuru as measured by the KSPCB is in tune with the findings of another survey conducted by the environmental agency Green Peace which too published its report early this year. The measurements were taken at the K.R. Circle which has a high density of vehicle population and the industrial suburbs and the air quality could be substantially better in residential areas, said Mr. Prakash.
Air pollution in Mysuru was mainly caused by open air burning of garbage which was rampant despite periodical warnings, apart from vehicle emissions, he added.
Real-time data on air quality soon
The city will soon get Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Station (CAAQMS) to provide air quality data on a real-time 24x7 basis. At present, there are two manually monitored stations and the CAAQMS will be established near the Dasara Exhibition Grounds opposite the palace.
KPSCB Environmental Officer in Mysuru B.M. Prakash said that the equipment being procured at a cost of ₹1.5 crore will be received in the third week of November after which the installation process will start. It will display the air quality and assess the pollution levels for PM 10 and PM 2.5 as also sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, among others. The data will be transmitted on a real-time basis besides being stored in the computer server for retrieval and evaluation. The CAAQMS is being installed in Mysuru under Phase 3 of the project taken by KSPCB. It will also be installed in Chamarajanagar, Hassan, Chikkamagaluru, among others.