A thick blanket of mist enveloped Mumbai on Thursday, with its Air Quality Index worse than Delhi’s. As per Centre-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), AQI level was recorded at 166 in Mumbai on Thursday morning, while it was 117 in Delhi.
Air Quality Index or AQI measures the concentration of PM 2.5 levels – fine particles of less than 2.5 microns that can enter the bloodstream and penetrate the lungs and heart – which are linked to chronic respiratory diseases. There are six AQI categories, namely Good Satisfactory, Moderately polluted, Poor, Very Poor, and Severe.
According to the AQI scale, the air quality check between 0 and 50 are considered “good”, 51 and 100 are “satisfactory”, 101 and 200 are “moderate”, 201 and 300 are “poor”, 301 and 400 are “very poor”, and 401 and 450 are “severe” and “severe ” when AQI exceeds 450.
With the construction going on everywhere and the scorching heat ranging from 34 to 36 degrees, the Air Quality Index in the financial capital has been seen in the ‘moderate’ to ‘poor category’ for the last three days. During this period, the most affected areas have been Andheri, Mazgaon, Navi Mumbai where AQI remained beyond 300.
At 6 pm on Wednesday, the PM10 level in Mumbai’s air was 143, while that of Delhi was 122. Airborne particulate matter (PM) is not a single pollutant, but rather is a mixture of many chemical species. Those with a diameter of 10 microns or less (PM10) are inhalable into the lungs and can induce adverse health effects.
Mumbai’s AQI was 113 on Tuesday, while Delhi’s was 83.
The situation was such that due to fog on Wednesday, local trains on the main line of Mumbai suburban network ran late by 15 to 20 minutes.
“The rains withdrew on October 10 itself, the land soil is completely dry, flying dust in the ongoing projects and increased traffic are all big factors. Earlier also in October the AQI was in poor category. Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has formed a committee and they are looking for a solution,” said India Meteorological Department (IMD) Director Sunil Kamble.
Mumbai’s guardian minister Deepak Kesarkar claimed that ongoing works of development projects such as metro were causing dust pollution in the city.
“The ongoing work of development projects like road and metro is causing pollution in the city. This is not chemical but dust pollution. We are looking for solutions… we will bring anti-smog guns like the one in Thane, so that the machines can suck the dust, they are working,” said Mr Kesarkar.
Bhagwan Keshabhat, founder of ‘Paryavran’, an organization working on environment, says that it is necessary that these projects – like road, metro, coastal – be monitored under one umbrella.
Poor quality of air is associated with significant health issues, and the most susceptible are the elderly, those who are very young, and people who venture out when the quality of the air is the worst, he said.
Flagging rising air pollution in Mumbai, the city civic body recently set up a panel to suggest dust control measures.