Mumbai: Mumbaikars can expect a spike in air pollution the day after Diwali.
System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR) has predicted that the city’s air quality index would deteriorate from 259 on Wednesday to 282 on Thursday. Air quality is measured by the level of the main pollutant —particulate material 2.5 (PM 2.5, particles that measure less than 2.5 microns). Air quality values between 201 and 300 are considered poor and people with heart or lung diseases, older adults and children are at risk.
“There is a temperature variation due to which pollutants may get trapped in the air. So, we will see air quality deteriorate on the night of Diwali and the following day. Apart from regular pollutants, crackers will add a lot of emissions,” said Neha Parkhi, senor programme officer, SAFAR, and Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune.
“People with existing heart or lung diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart disease, or ischemic heart disease are at an increased risk of admission to hospitals or even premature death based on the severity of already existing problems,” said the SAFAR report.
SAFAR calculates the air quality index (AQI) at various locations in city jointly with IITM, India Meteorological Department and National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting and local corporations.
Experts, though, say Mumbai has an advantage considering it is a coastal city. “In places where wind speed is low, dilution is slower.
This is more troublesome in land-locked areas. In Mumbai, due to coastal winds, air quality is bad for a limited period. It begins to normalalize soon,” said Rakesh Kumar, director, NEERI.
“We have been observing that cracker usage is reducing over the past five years. It could be due to both awareness or the rising prices,” he added.
The forecast has also identified Chembur, Bhandup, Mazgaon and Nerul as high risk locations. On the other hand, air in Borivli and Colaba will be relatively cleaner.
Meanwhile, even as most crackers this year have met permissible noise levels in a test done earlier this month, activists are unsure if it will be a quieter Diwali since there is no dedicated task force to tackle complaints.
“The 10pm deadline for crackers may not be followed if people have to depend on the control room and the local police station to complain about crackers. It is very difficult to get through the control room,” said Sumaira Abdulali, convener, Awaaz Foundation.