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Pune records air quality worse than Delhi as dust storm continues to affect Maharashtra for third day

🔴 State capital Mumbai recorded an AQI of 502 (severe plus) -- an unprecedented value, experts said.

Pune air quality, Pune pollution, Pune AQI, Pune weather, pune news, indian expressThis is the second consecutive day that Mumbai’s AQI was red. On Saturday, the AQI of Mumbai was 302. (Express Photo by Ashish Kale)

Pune’s air quality on Monday beat Delhi with the city’s Air Quality Index (AQI) soaring to 374 on the day and remaining in the ‘red’ or ‘very poor’ category. Delhi, meanwhile, recorded an AQI of 215, in the poor category.

State capital Mumbai recorded an AQI of 502 (severe plus) — an unprecedented value, experts said.
In a rare occurrence on Saturday, Pune was hit by a strong dust storm, originating from Saudi Arabia, which continued to prevail until Monday. Mumbai and northern Konkan regions, too, have been badly affected by the storm. Parts of Delhi are also under the influence of the weather phenomenon.

“It is very rare that Pune’s air quality has slipped to ‘very poor’ category as normally it remains either satisfactory (AQI below 100) or moderate (AQI between 100 and 200). The dust storm continues to prevail over Maharashtra and Gujarat on Monday,” said BS Murty, senior scientist at the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) at The Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune.

Due to the north-westerly direction of the winds, there is a higher and direct effect over Gujarat and Maharashtra, experts said.

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Gufran Beig, project director, SAFAR, called the situation both unusual and unprecedented.
“Never has Mumbai’s air quality gone into ‘severe’ category in the last three to four years,” said Beig, who said that the impact of the dust storm was less severe over Pune in comparison to Mumbai even though air quality in both the cities had been affected.

A number of Pune residents, meanwhile, have been complaining of runny nose, itchy eyes and throat over the past two days. The Particulate Matter (PM) 10 and PM2.5 level recorded across Shivajinagar, Hadapsar, Bhosari, Bhumkar Chowk, Nigdi, Kothrud and Lohegaon ranged between 200 and 300, that is, between ‘poor’ and ‘very poor’. Pashan remained severely affected with PM10 at 418 and PM2.5 at 408, categorised as ‘very poor’.

“Had there been colder conditions en route Afghanistan and Pakistan, the storm would not have reached parts of India. But due to warm temperatures prevailing in these regions, the storm was able to pick more dust on the way, transporting it all the way to Gujarat and Maharashtra,” explained Beig.

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Murty said that Tuesday onwards, the air quality could see a gradual improvement.

Besides the storm, low temperatures and low convection are adding to the overall poor air quality. Pune’s minimum temperature on Monday was 10.4 degrees and the day, till afternoon, was cloudy.

Clear sky conditions alone will allow the dispersion of pollutants and bring a change in the situation, Murty said. Experts said it would take two to three days for the condition in Pune, Mumbai and neighbourhood areas to return to normal.

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The SAFAR health advisory, issued by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, has warned Pune residents against stepping outdoors unless absolutely necessary.

They have been advised to wear N-95 masks or P-100 respirators when stepping out. While staying indoors, the advisory further suggests, the doors and windows should be kept shut and wet mopping should be carried out instead of vacuuming.

First published on: 24-01-2022 at 19:27 IST
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