Experts caution people over poor air quality during monsoon

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New Delhi, Aug 25 (IANS) Experts from various fields have urged people to plant more trees and adopt anti-pollution measures after a US embassy report said there was an increase in the concentration of air pollution in many cities, including Delhi, even during monsoon which is considered the best season in terms of air quality.

According to the report, the study for which was conducted between June 2014 and 2016, while air pollution levels decrease during the monsoon period the fall does not reach the level that can be considered safe for humans.

“Air pollution is one of the biggest threats, yet very minimum has been done to address the issue. The data is an eye opener… More plants need to be planted and cutting down extremely prohibited as they purify the air,” said Himanshu Garg, head of respiratory and critical care department at Artemis Hospitals.

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“Figures of air pollutant PM 2.5 as high as 68 µg/m³, 46 µg/m³, 36 µg/m³, 39 µg/m³ and 41µg/m³ in Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai respectively showed that even monsoon does not provide respite from already worse level of air pollution,” said the report.

µg/m³ unit for concentration of an air pollutant given in micrograms per cubic metre air.

Garg urged the government to make strong policies to tackle the problem, saying it was vital that people realise their responsibility towards the environment and adopt air-friendly measures.

Vijay Kanan, founder of CLAIM — India’s largest anti-pollution campaign, said: “The data is shocking because it overturns the belief many of us had that the monsoon rains cleanse the air, which now appears not to be the reality.”

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Noting that outdoor and indoor air are two sides of the same coin, Kannan, who is also India’s head for Blueair, said the report demonstrated the need for a host of different measures, policy changes and awareness campaigns to drive substantial and sustained improvements in air quality.

More than 5.5 million people worldwide die prematurely every year due to air pollution, and India as well as China together account for 55 per cent of these deaths.

Jayant Chaudhary, a Delhi based environment expert, said public awareness about the increase in air pollution and toxicity level needs to increase.

“There is a need for many such researches which can contribute towards public awareness on rising pollution and poor air quality. With the speed of urbanisation and decline of forest the air quality is going to dwindle in the future,” said Chaudhary.

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