Chennai in red zone as air quality index tops 300

Pollution levels in the city peaked on Friday with three continuous air quality monitoring stations recording over 300 microgram/cubic metre PM2.5 levels.

This means the city is in the red zone in the air quality index (AQI). With the Met Department forecasting only light winds for the next few days, there is very little likelihood of the pollution levels coming down, say experts.

The average of PM2.5 particles collected in a cubic metre space at Manali was 342, at Alandur 301 and at Velachery 307.

However, the level at the station managed by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) at Manali remained at 221 microgram/cubic metre, which ensured that Chennai’s AQI remained in the poor category at 288. The numbers have been climbing up since Monday and many residents have been affected by cold, cough, headache and fever due to the dust in the air the city breathes.

Former TNPCB Member Secretary K. Karthikeyan said as an immediate step, street burning of dry leaves and garbage should be stopped. “In Delhi, patrolling was done to prevent such burning. Pollution levels are indeed a cause for worry, but I am sure the government is keeping a close watch on it. The TNPCB can issue a public warning, asking people not to burn to keep away the cold,” he said.

IIT Madras Civil Engineering Department’s Shiva Nagendra said pollution has remained high due to lack of winds and the sun’s heat.

“Since we know that 40% of the emissions are from road dust, local bodies can sprinkle water and remove dust. And as concerned residents, we can cut down on using individual vehicles for travel and not use diesel generators as these cause 30% and 15% of emissions, respectively,” he said.

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