In the last five years, the level of particulate matter (PM) 2.5, a pollutant, has crossed the permissible limit in Pune, reveals an analysis of air quality by scientists at the System of Air Quality Forecasting and Research (SAFAR). Long-term sustainable measures are required to ensure that the quality of air does not deteriorate further, said Dr Gufran Beig, project director at SAFAR.
SAFAR scientists have been tracking and analysing the quality of air in Pune and other cities in India.
Particulate matter such as PM 2.5, which are less then 2.5 microns in size, are considered especially dangerous as these can penetrate deep into the lungs and enter the bloodstream. The maximum amount of emission is from the transport sector, followed by re-suspended dust from paved and unpaved roads, construction activities, brick kilns and others, Beig told The Indian Express. While the air quality level on a day-to-day basis may be satisfactory now, it worsens during winter season, he explained.
Meanwhile, according to a new study, Hazy Perceptions from the global health organisation Vital Strategies, air pollution causes more than 1.5 million deaths each year in South and Southeast Asia, but news reports and social media from a three-year period show poor public understanding of its major causes and the most promising solutions.
“Public demand for good air quality is essential, but our report demonstrates that demand may be focused on the wrong interventions,” said Daniel Kass, senior vice-president for Environmental Health at Vital Strategies, in a statement issued on Thursday.
The recommendations in Hazy Perceptions are based on the analysis of more than half a million pieces of news and
social media content for three years, from 2015 to 2018, in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Mongolia and Pakistan.
The report recommends evidence-based communication campaigns to highlight the most significant sources of air pollution and to address the health harms of long-term exposure.
Another critical step is ensuring that media professionals and key advocates for clean air are informed about credible data on the sources of air pollution, its health impact, and solutions.
“Credible and relevant data on air pollution is an important first step to educate the public and policy makers. We started SAFAR (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research) with the aim to provide science-based advance information related to air quality, and to increase awareness among general public in their city well in advance so that appropriate preventive steps, mitigation measures and systematic actions can be taken to improve air quality and prevent related health issues, said Beig.
“Public awareness needs to focus on more extensive coverage of health and other related benefits of clean air. They may also focus on practical solutions and partnering on air pollution control measures on sources of emissions like transport, industry, power plants, resuspended dust, waste and biomass burning to be able to constructively contribute to advancing stronger decision-support system on air quality management…” said Beig.