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‘More particles entering our lungs’

May 24, 2018 07:38 AM

‘More particles entering our lungs’
Study By Isro, St Xavier’s Warns
Paul John & Himanshu Kaushik TNN


Our collective apathy towards the air we breathe — the breath we require for our body metabolism and to survive — is spiralling into a dangerous trajectory.

A detailed and ongoing study conducted by the physics department of St Xavier’s college, University of Regina, Canada, and Isro’s Space Applications Centre (SAC) on the status of city’s air quality recorded at 30 locations covering three seasons has warned of increasing particulate pollution — a complex mixture of extremely small particles and liquid droplets that gets into the air owing to emissions from vehicles and factories, burning wood and other human activities.

Results show that mean particulate matter PM of 10 micrometres size varied from 234.8 microgram per cubic meter (microgram/m3) in winter, 154 microgram/m3 in summer while in monsoon the PM 10 was measured up to 50.1microgram/m3. On the other hand, PM 2.5 varied from 82.2 microgram/m3 in winter, 47.57 microgram/m3 in summer to 35.5 microgram/m3 during monsoon.

The limits prescribed by National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for PM 10 and PM 2.5 values is 100 microgram/m3 and 60 microgram/ m3 respectively. PM 2.5 micrometers is so small that it will roughly require 40 fine PM2.5 particles to total up to a human hair thickness of 100 micrometers.

The study was conducted by a team lead by prof Rajesh Iyer of St Xavier’s college and SAC scientist Abha Chhabra. The other researchers included Tejas Turakhia, Prakash Chauhan, Mohit Porwal and Divya Patel. The PM concentration was higher in industrial areas (582 microgram/m3 in winter to 123 microgram/m3 in monsoon) and traffic junctions (320 microgram/m3 in winter to 72 microgram/m3 in monsoon) while open areas like Public Park, colleges, and institutional areas had low PM concentration (99 microgram/m3 in winter to 51 microgram/m3 in monsoon). Alveolic particle concentrations which are smaller than PM 2.5 and even PM 1particles were also seen high in industrial area (272 to 103 microgram/m3), traffic areas and highways (235 microgram/m3).

Times View

A comprehensive city air action plan is the need of the hour. The more we delay, the more precious lives will be lost to PM 2.5 pollution and now an emerging danger of finer particles like PM 1and alveolic particles. It is time that standards for PM 1and alveolic particles should be drawn. It’s not just about authorities, but a larger participation from citizens is needed to help clean our air. Ensuring that personal vehicles meet PUC standards, opting for public transport, encouraging tree plantation drives and encouraging carpooling in neighborhoods are some ways in which individuals can contribute towards pollution control.

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