Air quality dips, stubble burning likely reason

Sharp increase in particulate matter well ahead of Diwali, reveals data

Written by Adil Akhzer | Chandigarh | Published:October 13, 2017 4:19 am
diwali news, pollution news, chandigarh news, indian express news Smoggy weather in Panchkula on Thursday. Jaipal Singh

THE AIR quality in the Tricty has started deteriorating since last week, data compiled by the Chandigarh Pollution Control Committee (CPCC) has revealed. The worsening air is visible to the naked eye as a hazy sky that Chandigarh residents have noticed over the last few days.
With Diwali still a week away and no firecrackers being burst yet, the weather department and a private forecaster attribute it to stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana.

According to weather department, the “haze like” conditions in the city have been seen since earlier this week.

Data of CPCC available with Chandigarh Newsline reveals that two out of city’s five air monitoring units are recording increasing values of PM10 and PM 2.5 (particles in air with diameter less than 2.5 mm) after October 6. The finer the particles are, the more chances of them getting into the nasal tract, and higher the risk of respiratory illlnesses.

CPCC has five ambient air quality monitor units installed at different place in the city.

The permissible value of PM10 for 24-hour reading is 100 µg/m3 (micrograms per cubic meter) and for PM 2.5, it is 60 µg/m3. At its Industrial Area unit, on October 6, the value of PM10 was recorded at 72 µg/m3. It shot up to 125 µg/m3 on October 9 and increased to 164µg/m3 on Wednesday. At the same monitoring unit, PM2.5 value was recorded 45 µg/m3 on October 6. It increased to 92 µg/m3 on October 9, and 114 on Wednesday.

At PEC monitoring unit too, the PM10 and PM2.5 levels are going up. On October 6, 9 and 11, the PM10 values were found to be 67, 104 and 137 µg/m3. The PM2.5 values also witnessed an increase. From 40 µg/m3 on October 6 the value has increased to 88 µg/m3 on Wednesday.

The CPCC data also shows an increase in other three monitoring units located in Sector 17, IMTECH and Kaimbwala which was observed in October 7 and 10 readings.

A Chandigarh MeT department official confirmed to Chandigarh Newsline that the city is recording smoke haze conditions for the past few days. “It starts in the afternoon around 3 pm,” said the official.

Mahesh Palawat, chief meteorologist of private weather forecaster SkymetWeather Services, told Chandigarh Newsline that the haze and mist exist in the city due to the changing weather and stubble burning is adding smoke to the haze.

“Earlier, winds were blowing from north west direction which were dry and speed was also moderate. These winds did not allow smoke particles as well as other pollutants to accumulate over the city. But for the last few days the wind direction has changed and the light winds from south east direction are blowing over the region,” he said.

He stated that humid winds are coming from Bay of Bengal and have increased humidity levels. “…dust and smoke particles from stubble burning get mixed with the haze and forms smog or smoke haze. Due to light winds, these pollutants remain suspended in the lower atmosphere and increase pollution,” said Palawat.

According to Skymet, stubble burning is one of the contributors to increasing pollution. “These smoke particles are being carried by winds towards Chandigarh and get mixed with the haze. Until and unless strong winds from north west start blowing, the pollutants will not be carried away,” said Palawat.

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