Maharashtra: High levels of PM 2.5 in Kharghar-Taloja-Panvel belt
The air quality in Kharghar-Panvel-Taloja areas in Maharashtra has been found to contain high levels of PM 2.5 after a month-long study conducted by environment NGO Waatavaran Foundation.
The air quality in Kharghar-Panvel-Taloja areas in Maharashtra has been found to contain high levels of PM 2.5 after a month-long study conducted by environment NGO Waatavaran Foundation. According to Ronak Sutaria, Founder and Director Mumbai based air quality researchers Respirer Living Sciences (RLS) Pvt. Ltd., “Waatavaran’s air monitoring study has helped identify some useful trends of air quality in and around MIDC, Taloja. The daily data shows poor air quality that is much above the safe level. Real-time monitoring of air quality helps citizens with timely information which impacts their health and well-being.”
Throughout the month long study, Panvel had bad air quality on most of the days exceeding Indian standards of permissible levels of particulate matter in air quality.
Inhaling the air containing PM 2.5 poses a threat as it can cause respiratory diseases upon entering the lungs. “This study by Waatavaran has shown that half a million people living in Panvel are constantly exposed to high levels of particulate matter air pollutants, the major source of which appears to be motor vehicular traffic, followed by industry sources and then road dust. The pollutants can cause several health problems, including recurrent lung infections, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and heart ailments and stroke in the elderly. It is now up to the local authorities to take this issue seriously and plan strategies to reduce the levels of air pollution in Panvel using sustainable means,” said Sundeep Salvi, Director, Pulmocare Research and Education (PURE) Foundation, Pune.
The entire study started on November 13, 2020, with the help of five low-cost real-time air quality monitors placed in five places - MIDC, Taloja, Sector 13, Panvel, Sector 36, Kharghar, Navade, Taloja and Sector 7, Kharghar.
The data has been sent for analysis on December 13, 2020.
According to Bhagwan Kesbhat, Founder of Waatavaran Foundation, “The key reasons for initiating this first of its kind study in this area was to not only understand the air quality that people from the Kharghar-Panvel-Taloja were daily breathing, but to also highlight the fact that the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) and the civic body have failed to provide real-time air quality monitoring system.”
After analyzing the data, it has been seen that the PM 2.5 levels were highest at 7 am. The average level of PM 2.5 across all five areas is 141.1 μg/m3 at 7 am. Among the five areas, MIDC had the highest average of pollutant levels with 197.4 μg/m3 and the lowest being Sector 13, Panvel with 113.1 μg/m3.
The average data of PM 2.5 levels across five areas at Panvel were found to be 1.7 times the Indian standard (60 μg/m3) and four times the WHO standard (25 μg/m3).
Setting up Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Stations in Panvel can help in collecting real-time data and creating a ‘Clean Air Action Plan’ as suggested by Waatavaran. “It is important to check the industrial emissions, manage road dust pollution and also make entire Panvel region a ‘Zero Waste Burning’ city to reduce emissions and improving air quality,” Kesbhat added.
He also focussed on how the Panvel Municipal Corporation can play a big role in keeping the level of pollutants in check to reduce the risk to which the people of these areas are exposed to. However, Sunil Dahiya, Analyst, Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air said, “Air pollution at any given location is a function of local emissions, pollution coming from nearby and distant places and the meteorology governing it, the only thing in our control is to reduce the emissions at source and that’s the best way to achieve breathable air quality.”