The air quality in large parts of Pune dropped to ‘very poor’ during Diwali, as several people violated the Supreme Court’s directive about a two-hour window to burst firecrackers during the festival. But this year, the levels of the lead pollutant — PM 2.5 or fine particulate matter less than 2.5 microns that can penetrate the lungs and the bloodstream — were considerably less than the high levels registered in 2016.
On the day of Diwali, November 7, the concentration of PM 2.5 was 70µg/m3 (micrograms per cubic metre of air) and PM 10 was 115µg/m3, both of which fell in the moderate category, said Dr Gufran Beig, project director of the System of Air Quality and weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR). The day after Diwali, November 8, however, saw a higher concentration of PM 2.5, at 127 µg/m3, and PM 10, at 195.3µg/m3, which fall in the ‘very poor’ and ‘poor’ category respectively. These figures were still lower than the PM 2.5 level seen in 2016, which was 168 µg/m3, said Beig.
The highest levels of PM 10 and PM 2.5 were recorded between 11 pm and 5 am on the intervening night of November 7 – 8. The most polluted areas during the Diwali period were Hadapsar and Manjri, while the least-polluted areas were Bhosari and Pashan.
SAFAR is run by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, with the support of the India Meteorological Department, and predicts the quality of air.
SAFAR scientists said Mumbai also experienced a higher amount of PM 2.5 the day after Diwali, with the air quality index, or AQI, rising to 305, which fell in the ‘very poor’ range. The air quality was, however, better than it was in 2016 and 2017, indicating that the pollution caused by firecrackers was lower this year, said scientists.
The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board also monitors the ambient air quality and noise level’. While decibel levels were monitored on November 1, 7 and 9, the monitoring of ambient air quality levels is being done since October 31 and will continue till November 15. “A report has to be submitted to the Supreme Court based on the recent ruling,” said Nitin Shide, sub-regional officer, MPCB, Pune region.