Air pollution in Chennai five times higher than WHO limits: Report

An analysis of air quality data of Chennai by Greenpeace India has shown that the average pollution level in the city was much higher than the WHO air quality guidelines.

A report by NGO Greenpace International, released in January, revealed that the air pollution in Chennai has surpassed the World Health Organisation’s permissible limits by five times. The levels of PM10, which is particulate matter less than 10-micron size in the air we breathe, have gone up by three to four times in Chennai.

The Greenpeace report said that Chennai’s annual average PM2.5 analysed between November 2020 and November 2021 was 27 micrograms/m3, five times higher than the WHO limit of 5 micrograms/m3. A report published in the Times of India (TOI) revealed that Greenpeace studies show that Chennai is one of the most polluted cities in India.

The levels of PM10 in Coimbatore and Puducherry have increased by two to three times than revised standards of WHO, the Hindu reported, citing the Greenpeace India Report. The studies have shown that the average pollution levels in Chennai, Coimbatore and Puducherry were much higher than WHO air quality guidelines. It shows that the air pollution was a public health crisis not in north Indian cities but also in south Indian cities.

Other stations also record high pollution levels

As per the Greenpeace India report, the PM2.5 levels were recorded six times higher than the WHO standard at Manali and Kodungaiyur Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) stations. Other stations such as Perungudi, Royapuram and Velachery recorded PM2.5 levels three to four times higher than the WHO limit.

Emphasising that identification of the exact source of pollution would better enforce pollution norms, Pooja Kumar, co-ordinator of coastal resource centre, told TOI that industries and thermal plants are the sources of pollution in North Chennai. She also said that the city is not adding monitoring systems in accordance to the growth in population and areas.

“More monitoring systems will help to get reliable data,” she told TOI.

Authors call for quick action

The authors of the report have suggested a comprehensive, systematic and time-bound action to curb air pollution.

“If we don’t act now, these south Indian cities are too not far from cities like Delhi in terms of the health and economic impact of air pollution,” reported the Hindu, quoting the authors. The Greenpeace study has recommended certain ways to reduce air pollution levels, one among them being that governments need to seek alternatives to burning fossil fuels for industries. It has also called for car-free days in the city and illustrate that it is possible to travel in the city without private vehicles.

Satyarupa Shekhar, Asia Pacific Coordinator for Break Free From Plastic Movement suggested that the TNPCB stations and the government must bring down petrochemical production, avoid burning of waste, incineration and stop the use of single-use plastics to reduce air pollution, reported TOI.

Air pollution in Chennai five times higher than WHO limits: Report – Cities News

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