Air quality of capital cities worsened during winter: Study

Kashmir freezes as Srinagar records coldest night of season

The air quality in the two capital cities Jammu and Srinagar worsened during this winter, a study reveals.

The study conducted by J&K State Pollution Control Board reveals that the air quality recorded within the two municipal corporation limits of Srinagar and Jammu surpassed the national air quality standards resulting in them becoming “non-attainment cities with regard to air pollution”.

The Ambient Air Quality is mainly measured on the basis of concentration levels of Particulate Matter (PM 10) and PM 2.5, which are extremely fine pollutants measured in parts per million (PPM). 

According to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the 24-hours standards for Particulate Matter (PM 10) in both the capital cities and elsewhere in the country is 60 micro grams per cubic meter and that for PM 2.5 it is 40 micro grams per cubic  meter, monitored along residential and industrial areas which was found spiked in both the capital cities , says the board.

The effects of these fine-sized pollutants are greatly felt during winter months, as these harmful particles remain suspended in lower atmospheric levels. As a result, the chances of these particles entering the human respiratory system are higher, thus triggering pollution-related ailments like choking, coughing or sneezing, twitching of nose among others. Poor air quality can be particularly harmful for persons with existing compromised respiratory conditions, like asthma.

Regional Director, J&K State Pollution Control Board, Syed Nadeem Hussain said that PM standards of the state are the same as Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

He said  that deteriorating quality of air in the two capital cities has resulted in them becoming “ non-attainment  cities with regard to air pollution”.  “We calculate the Air Quality Index on 24-hour basis and then put together a mean figure for the year. The levels have been increasing to a great extent,” Nadeem said.

Pertinently, a recent study has found that burning of bio-fuels like firewood and fossil fuels like coal besides emissions from vehicles are the major pollutants in Kashmir during winter months. 

“Winter burst of Pristine Kashmir Valley Air,” the study by Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune, and University of Kashmir, has found that burning of coal contributed about 156 tonnes of Particulate Matter 2.5 of the total emission of 163.62 tonnes of PM 2.5. Vehicles are the second major pollutants, contributing about 7.5 tonnes of PM 2.5. The next is firewood (0.12 tonnes of PM 2.5 per month).