If you’re a resident from the Kharghar-Panvel-Taloja belt, you are inhaling polluted air for almost 17 hours every day. A month-long air quality monitoring carried out by an environment NGO Waatavaran Foundation, suggests that your morning walks could end up doing more damage to your health than good.
The study revealed high levels of Particulate Matter pollutant- (PM 2.5) in the air of these areas early in the morning between 6 am to 8 am. Meanwhile, the air quality data collected across this belt also indicated that Panvel witnessed ‘bad air days’ throughout the one-month period, where most days had crossed the Indian standards of permissible levels of air quality.
According to health experts the particulate matter pollutants especially PM 2.5 are extremely small and known to easily enter the lungs causing respiratory illnesses. High levels of PM 2.5 are also responsible for lower visibility and smog.
For this study, Waatavaran installed five low-cost real-time air quality monitors that measure particulate matter concentration in ambient air at 1) MIDC, Taloja; 2) Sector 13, Panvel; 3) Sector 36, Kharghar; 4) Navade, Taloja; and 5) Sector 7, Kharghar. The PM 2.5 data was monitored between November 13, 2020, to December 13, 2020, and then analysed.
Bhagwan Kesbhat, Founder of Waatavaran Foundation informed, “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.”
Kehsbhat said that Waatavaran will be sharing the detailed report of this study with the Panvel Municipal Corporation, local elected representatives as well as the State environment department and MPCB very soon.
Meanwhile, in its recommendations to the authorities, Waatavaran has suggested setting up of Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Stations in Panvel to make sure real-time data is available along with creating a ‘Clean Air Action Plan’ focusing on Panvel. “It's important to check the industrial emissions, manage road dust pollution and also, make the entire Panvel region a ‘Zero Waste Burning’ city to reduce emissions and improving air quality,” said Kesbhat.
What did the study reveal?
The study revealed that the highest, PM2.5 levels were recorded at 7 am, which was 141.1 μg/m3 (average of data from five monitors). Though the highest levels of PM 2.5 were recorded in the early hours of the morning, data also suggests that residents were breathing in polluted air for 17 hours every day.