Chennai began breathing easier on Monday with the air quality index (AQI) recording a moderate 184. By 7.30 p.m., the wind brought the AQI down to 153.
The Velachery ambient air monitoring station recorded a maximum PM2.5 of 307 microgram/cubic metre and an average of 172 microgram/cubic metre; the one at Alandur recorded a maximum of 307 microgram/cubic metre and an average of 211 microgram/cubic metre.
However, pollution indoors continues to worry residents. Sholinganallur resident G. Sathish said that they had intensified mopping and wiping at home due to the increase in dust levels. “Sometimes we get blackish-coloured dust, which is even more scary. I am a heart patient and because of the dust outside, I have not gone on my daily walks,” he added.
Rajiv Gandhi Salai witnesses over one lakh vehicles a day and though it is swept every day, vehicle exhaust and re-suspension of road dust happens. Road dust has been an issue even on interior roads. Latha Murthi, a resident of Vinayakapuram in Retteri said that since theirs was a main road that led to other residential localities, it witnessed quite a large number of vehicles. “Though we wipe the house twice a week, we feel it is not enough. Over the past week, the dust levels inside the house have gone up,” she said.
IIT Madras Civil Engineering Department’s Shiva Nagendra explained that in urban areas use of kerosene in kitchens also added to indoor air pollution. “Varnish and paints used in furniture and on walls and even printers also contribute volatile organic compounds. If your building is located near a traffic site, concentrations of VOCs and particulate matter are higher if the place is naturally ventilated. Simple things like use of curtains, trees, closing windows on the side of the road during peak traffic and if possible use of air curtains help cut down pollution,” he explained.
At a meeting on Monday, Revenue Minister R.B. Udayakumar reviewed pollution levels. Senior officials including Gagandeep Singh Bedi, who holds additional charge of Revenue and CRA J. Radhakrishnan took part.