Mumbai: Mumbai is experiencing some of its worst air quality days, with the Air Quality Index (AQI) touching 315 (very poor category), even worse than Delhi’s AQI of 259 on Thursday.
Experts have attributed this to an anti-cyclonic circulation causing the winds to become weak. This is not a regular phenomenon and rarely occurs over Mumbai, which is likely to continue for almost a week.
Meanwhile, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted unseasonal rainfall next week, which may help in improving the air quality.
According to the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR) Project Director Gufran Beig, the stagnant winds are the main reason for the drop in air quality. “The speed of the winds is the most important factor. The speeds have seen a decline throughout December. The gap between the winds that come from the ocean and sweep away pollutants has increased significantly. Their reversal should take place every three to four days, but now it’s taking around 10-12 days,” he said.
Explaining this phenomenon which is also called anticyclonic circulation, Mumbai IMD official Sushma Nair said, “The anticyclonic circulation is not allowing the air to rise very high, causing the pollutants to remain in the atmosphere. The winds also tend to weaken and do not take the pollutants away from the land easily.”
According to experts, the smaller and the most harmful pollutant (PM 2.5) has increased over the city, which is hazardous and can cause severe health issues.
Speaking about the health impact due to the air pollution, Dr Salil Bendre, Head and Senior Consultant, Chest Medicine (Pulmonology), Nanavati Max Super Speciality Hospital, said, “Air pollution has become a serious health concern in Mumbai, and it is especially harmful to respiratory health. Studies have shown that this level of air pollution can increase the risk of respiratory problems such as asthma, bronchitis, and pneumonia."
He added, "As air pollution levels continue to rise, we are seeing a corresponding increase in respiratory problems such as asthma and bronchitis. Moreover, children are more vulnerable to the effects of air pollution than adults because their lungs are still growing and developing.”
According to the pulmonologist, there are a number of ways to mitigate the risk of respiratory diseases, especially for those who live in areas with high levels of air pollution. One is to avoid strenuous outdoor activity when pollution levels are high. Another is to wear a mask that filters out pollutants when outside.
“In addition, it is important to stay hydrated and to avoid irritants such as smoke and fumes. If you have asthma or another respiratory condition, make sure to follow your doctor's instructions and keep your medication handy in case of an attack,” he added.
(If you have a story in and around Mumbai, you have our ears, be a citizen journalist and send us your story here. )