Mumbai’s PM 2.5 levels 8 times higher than new WHO norms | Mumbai News

Mumbai’s PM 2.5 levels 8 times higher than new WHO norms | Mumbai News, the vie

MUMBAI: Mumbai has a long way to go before it achieves Wednesday’s revised World Health Organisation (WHO) standards for better ambient air quality.
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The revised WHO standard for particulate matter (PM) 2.5 is now eight times more stringent than the national guideline, indicating a daunting task ahead for policy makers and pollution monitors.
A recent study found the PM 2.5 level may have acted as a catalyst in intensifying Covid infections in some wards.
Mumbai’s average concentration of PM 2.5 in the air during the restricted movement months of March to May this year was 40.3 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m3), slightly higher than the national standard of 40 µg/m3. The earlier WHO standard recommended 10 µg/m3, which was revised to 5 µg/m3 on Wednesday.
The national PM 2.5 level set by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) was already four times higher than the previous WHO standards.
That apart, a recent analysis by the System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), under the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune, has revealed the share of PM 2.5 emissions from vehicles, mainly trucks and buses, was 30.5% in 2019-20 compared with 16% in 2016-17. Dust from vehicles and construction sites and smoke from vehicles and garbage burning have been large contributors of PM 2.5 in Mumbai’s air.
The Economic Survey report 2020-21 for Maharashtra noted Mumbai accounted for 10.3% of the state’s vehicle registrations.
Pollution in Mumbai is measured in terms of average PM 2.5 concentration in the air. These particles can enter the lungs easily and are carcinogenic. This concentration of an air pollutant is given in micrograms (one-millionth of a gram) per cubic metre of air or µg/m3. It is also measured in terms of PM 10, which is less harmful than PM 2.5 though.
Scientists say Mumbai is lucky to be surrounded by sea which helps in swift dispersal of pollutants.
A former senior Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) official said even during the lockdown last year, the city registered PM2.5 levels close to the CPCB standard. “To achieve the new range suggested by WHO, CPCB needs to amend the rules and bring in stringent legal enforcements,” he said, pointing out dust suppression measures such as sprinklers and dust curtains at construction sites and for trucks were a necessity.

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