Tamil Nadu

City’s air quality worsens

Light and smoke:  Chennai’s air quality index hovered around 350 at five monitoring stations soon after the Deepavali celebrations.

Light and smoke: Chennai’s air quality index hovered around 350 at five monitoring stations soon after the Deepavali celebrations.

As Chennai celebrated Deepavali on Thursday, the quality of air plunged to very poor level as most monitoring stations recorded air quality index (AQI) levels above 300. As the evening progressed into night, the smog (a combination of smoke and water droplets) was so thick that visibility became very poor and motorists had to switch to high beam lights.

According to the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB), the AQI, which is the average of the main pollutant on a particular day, hovered around 350 at the five stations it monitored. In its report issued on Friday, it said that pollution levels soared at Besant Nagar (342), T. Nagar (385), Nungambakkam (369), Triplicane (378) and Sowcarpet (371) on the day of the festival. The AQI tells us that levels of 301-400 mean very poor air quality. The report showed that there was a substantial increase in values of PM10 and PM2.5 in these stations as compared to 2020. Values of PM10 ranged from 187 microgram/cubic metre to 283 microgram/cubic metre. Similarly, values of PM2.5 ranged from 175 microgram/cubic metre to 257 microgram/cubic metre. The prescribed standard for both pollutants is 60 microgram/cubic metre.

The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board attributed the increase in air pollution level and AQI values mainly to high relative humidity (90% and above), low wind speed and heavy bursting of crackers during the permitted time.

Other monitors

The Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB) Sameer App showed high levels of pollution. Some stations like Manali, Arumbakkam, Perungudi and Royapuram recorded maximum levels of 500 microgram/cubic metre. Some locations like Alandur and Manali registered high levels of ground Ozone.

Poovulagu Nanbargal’s G. Sundarrajan said that some monitors had recorded very high levels such as 895 at Alandur. “Seeing the very high pollution levels, we can only call for cracker-free celebrations to prevent people and animals from being poisoned,” he said, and added that though the TNPCB had conducted surveys at only five locations, it had acknowledged the fact that pollution levels were high.

Former TNPCB Member Secretary K. Karthikeyan said a study of geospatial distribution of air pollutants and meteorological conditions were important for bursting of crackers when done in tonnes and during restricted hours. The CPCB should prepare a clean air action plan, he said.

Kannan Bhaktavatsalam, a resident of Thoraipakkam, said that because of the noise and pollution, elders, babies and pets were disturbed.

“Every year, the various boards seem to wake up to the problem of pollution only during Deepavali and Bhogi. What is needed is year-round planning and, if need be, even rationing of crackers to keep pollution under check. We should not take away the fun of the festival, but at the same time ensure that generations to come can celebrate it in the same style,” he added.

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Printable version | Aug 11, 2022 10:15:41 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/citys-air-quality-worsens/article37349209.ece