India’s financial capital is in the blanket of air pollution and has now had the dubious distinction of being the second most polluted in the world after Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia, during the month air quality Index recorded in February. This is according to the Switzerland-based Air Quality Index (AQI) monitoring company IQAir. The city, considered the ‘Jaan’ (heart of India), is now gripped with fine particulate smog pollution that has serious health risks to its hard-working inhabitants.
IQAir classified the reading of Mumbai as 163 on February 13, according to their real-time worldwide air quality monitor, which updates the World and the US Air Quality Standards. For the overall major city world ranking based on US AQI for the year so far, Mumbai is ranked in the 11th Position, with the air considered to be at an unhealthy level.
In the Blanket of Air Pollution – Understanding the US AQI Standards
Over the year, various governments have an air quality index to communicate to their population how polluted the air is and to forecast what air pollution will become in the coming days or months.
Various air quality sensors get average readings. These readings, however, fluctuate based on vehicle traffic in cities, forest fires, and Industrial Emissions from coal or non-renewable power plants.
The substances tested by these air quality sensors are Ozone O₃, Nitrogen dioxide NO₂, Sulphur dioxide SO₂, Carbon Mono Oxide CO, and Particulate Pollution PM 2.5 and PM 10.
Based on this, each nation has classified data according to various numeric intervals ranging from 0-500; the higher the AQI value, the greater the health concern. This is computed using a piecewise linear function of the Pollutant concentration.
The US AQI has traditionally been considered the Global Standard by Monitoring organisations such as IQ air since is due to the fact; the United States Environmental Protection Agency were the first to develop such air quality Indexes; however, regional variations must be considered when considering the AQI Standards. Over the years, Australia, Canada, South Korea, Japan, and the United Kingdom created their AQI standards.
Following that pattern, the National Air Quality Index was Launched in New Delhi for India on September 17, 2014, under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan; however, India’s Air Quality Index Completely varied from the Global Standards as Mumbai air quality is Moderate as per the Indian AQI assessed by the Central Pollution Control Board.
In the Blanket of Air Pollution – What is Causing Low Quality of Air in Mumbai
One of the reasons for the increase in air pollution in Mumbai is high Particulate matter, also abbreviated as PM. They are two diameters of PM. We are considering PM10 and PM 2.5
PM 10 is an inhalable particle with diameters generally 10 micrometres or smaller, and PM 2.5 with a diameter of 2.5 micrometres.
Construction and development works contribute to an increase in particulate levels of Pollution. The current PM 2.5 in Mumbai are 96.8 µg/m³, 19.4 times the WHO annual air guideline value. While PM 10 is at 186.3 µg/m³.
Dr Gufran Baig, founder and project manager of System of Air Quality, Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), said: “This year, the air quality of Mumbai dipped significantly. This happened because there is no control over emissions due to many construction activities, transportation, and development activities. Secondly, clean winds, which usually drift the Pollution, are seen at a gap of 10-15 days from the usual three-four days. This ensures the Pollution remains in the air.”
Effects of Living Under the blanket of Air Pollution
An Estimated 7,000 deaths took place in 2021 in Mumbai due to air pollution. Dr Behzad Bhandari, a paediatrician attached to SRCC Children’s Hospital, said, “At least six of the ten patients seen in the OPD are with complaints of burning eyes, headaches, cold and fever. In the long term, this may get children into Asthma Problems. Treatments take longer than usual to show effect.”
Various celebrities have made their voices heard; amongst them, Raveena Tandon took to her Twitter Page a Selfie Photo of herself with a mask highlighting the enormity of the surge in Mumbai’s air pollution levels.