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Guwahati Air Pollution: Positive action in monsoon may give us a pollution-free winter

By The Assam Tribune
Guwahati Air Pollution: Positive action in monsoon may give us a pollution-free winter
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Guwahati, April 22: Although the pandemic trend is receding the mask should be put on not because it is advisable to curb the spread of possible infections, but also to keep health diseases like lung infection, asthma and respiratory problems at bay. As air quality of the city has deteriorated alarmingly in the past few months the day is not far when we will never get rid of the mask and may witness a situation like Delhi, during the dry spell.

In the first 12 days of March, Guwahati's air quality was stated to be in 'poor category' but on March 13, the AQI shot up to 310 while on March 15, it was 308 making the city one of the most polluted places in the country.

To understand if the air quality of Guwahati is going the Delhi way, The Assam Tribune spoke to Dr. Jaideep Baruah, Head In-Charge, Environment Division, Assam Science Technology and Environment Council (ASTEC), who apprised us about the air quality of the city in line with the national capital.

In March 2022, Guwahati's air quality index (AQI) was mostly unhealthy and on certain occasions, it surged to very unhealthy levels. While in April it showed a downward trend and it was in the "unhealthy to sensitive to moderate" category. On March 17 the AQI was 217 in the city and in the same period Delhi suffered severely as the air quality was in the unhealthy category since March 14 and on April 13 it was in the "very unhealthy" category with AQI 267, informed Dr Baruah.

"Observing the AQI of both the places it can be said that Guwahati's air quality remains mostly unhealthy to very unhealthy and later to moderate level whereas, if we look at Delhi, it is still in the unhealthy category. Therefore, it is difficult to equate Guwahati's AQI with that of Delhi's level for the entire year. However, from February-March Guwahati's air pollution level is certainly a matter of concern for all of us," says Dr Baruah.

Speaking about the major causes leading to the increased pollution levels in Guwahati, Dr Baruah said that dust particles, bio-mass burning and vehicular pollution contribute immensely to the particulate matter (PM) concentrations in the air. The increased levels of both PM 2.5 and PM 10 are major causes of different health issues like lung disease, acute and chronic bronchitis, asthma attack, respiratory problems, reduced lung-function growth in children, etc.

Guwahati is surrounded by hills but of late there has been excavation, human settlement, construction activities etc, which is gradually reducing the green cover in the city.

While affirming that the pollution level decreases gradually during the monsoons, Dr Baruah alerted that it is not a matter to remain content as constructive action taken during this period will lead to a pollution-free winter. "It is important to control the flow of mud during the rainy season by managing the surrounding hills through plantation programme, stabilising hill slopes, optimising earth cutting, minimum construction activities in the hills, the dust particles during the dry spell could be substantially reduced. Our positive action in monsoon may give us a happier environment in winter," added Dr Baruah.

Dr Baruah further said that urban street dust contains heavy metals and it may cause severe respiratory and lung diseases among children and elders. Similarly, vehicular emission contains benzene and lead, which could impact different organs including the lung which results in respiratory problems. Moreover, smoke may cause different forms of health diseases like bronchial asthma, cancer, etc. Hence it becomes important to consider all these pollutants with equal concern.

On being asked about the mechanism that needs to be adopted to mitigate or reduce the pollution levels in the city Dr Baruah suggested that stabilisation of hill-slopes in the surrounding hills should be given high priority. "Usually, mud from the hilly terrains flow downwards during rainy season and it fills up the drains, cover roads and low-lying areas and during the dry season, this mixes with the air as tiny particles. To minimise dust, we should minimise activities at the hill-slopes. Management of construction debris should also be a high priority. Immediate measures like street sweeping, street cleaning, environmentally compatible dust suppressant, etc. may also be thought of," asserts Dr Baruah.

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Guwahati Air Pollution: Positive action in monsoon may give us a pollution-free winter

Guwahati, April 22: Although the pandemic trend is receding the mask should be put on not because it is advisable to curb the spread of possible infections, but also to keep health diseases like lung infection, asthma and respiratory problems at bay. As air quality of the city has deteriorated alarmingly in the past few months the day is not far when we will never get rid of the mask and may witness a situation like Delhi, during the dry spell.

In the first 12 days of March, Guwahati's air quality was stated to be in 'poor category' but on March 13, the AQI shot up to 310 while on March 15, it was 308 making the city one of the most polluted places in the country.

To understand if the air quality of Guwahati is going the Delhi way, The Assam Tribune spoke to Dr. Jaideep Baruah, Head In-Charge, Environment Division, Assam Science Technology and Environment Council (ASTEC), who apprised us about the air quality of the city in line with the national capital.

In March 2022, Guwahati's air quality index (AQI) was mostly unhealthy and on certain occasions, it surged to very unhealthy levels. While in April it showed a downward trend and it was in the "unhealthy to sensitive to moderate" category. On March 17 the AQI was 217 in the city and in the same period Delhi suffered severely as the air quality was in the unhealthy category since March 14 and on April 13 it was in the "very unhealthy" category with AQI 267, informed Dr Baruah.

"Observing the AQI of both the places it can be said that Guwahati's air quality remains mostly unhealthy to very unhealthy and later to moderate level whereas, if we look at Delhi, it is still in the unhealthy category. Therefore, it is difficult to equate Guwahati's AQI with that of Delhi's level for the entire year. However, from February-March Guwahati's air pollution level is certainly a matter of concern for all of us," says Dr Baruah.

Speaking about the major causes leading to the increased pollution levels in Guwahati, Dr Baruah said that dust particles, bio-mass burning and vehicular pollution contribute immensely to the particulate matter (PM) concentrations in the air. The increased levels of both PM 2.5 and PM 10 are major causes of different health issues like lung disease, acute and chronic bronchitis, asthma attack, respiratory problems, reduced lung-function growth in children, etc.

Guwahati is surrounded by hills but of late there has been excavation, human settlement, construction activities etc, which is gradually reducing the green cover in the city.

While affirming that the pollution level decreases gradually during the monsoons, Dr Baruah alerted that it is not a matter to remain content as constructive action taken during this period will lead to a pollution-free winter. "It is important to control the flow of mud during the rainy season by managing the surrounding hills through plantation programme, stabilising hill slopes, optimising earth cutting, minimum construction activities in the hills, the dust particles during the dry spell could be substantially reduced. Our positive action in monsoon may give us a happier environment in winter," added Dr Baruah.

Dr Baruah further said that urban street dust contains heavy metals and it may cause severe respiratory and lung diseases among children and elders. Similarly, vehicular emission contains benzene and lead, which could impact different organs including the lung which results in respiratory problems. Moreover, smoke may cause different forms of health diseases like bronchial asthma, cancer, etc. Hence it becomes important to consider all these pollutants with equal concern.

On being asked about the mechanism that needs to be adopted to mitigate or reduce the pollution levels in the city Dr Baruah suggested that stabilisation of hill-slopes in the surrounding hills should be given high priority. "Usually, mud from the hilly terrains flow downwards during rainy season and it fills up the drains, cover roads and low-lying areas and during the dry season, this mixes with the air as tiny particles. To minimise dust, we should minimise activities at the hill-slopes. Management of construction debris should also be a high priority. Immediate measures like street sweeping, street cleaning, environmentally compatible dust suppressant, etc. may also be thought of," asserts Dr Baruah.