CHENNAI: Listen to Hindi songs all evening, and learn if the air you breathe is safe or not. Popular radio channel Fever FM 91.9 is providing updates on the pollution levels and issuing health advisories to vulnerable population like pregnant women and children. This is the first-of-its-kind initiative in the country and has been mooted by city-based renowned pulmonologist Dr Hisamuddin Papa, who founded Huma Lung Foundation.
It is being integrated with daily show ‘Lose Control’ that provides peak hours traffic and weather updates between 5 pm and 9 pm. The show’s RJ, Sanobar, told the City Express that Fever FM
has been giving updates on air quality for the last two weeks and the response from the public has been overwhelming.
‘Air Check’ will give information about the Air Quality Index (AQI) of the locations in the city that have Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB) monitors and also give health advisories for the citizens. CPCB has three Continuous Ambient Monitoring Stations (CAMS) in Alandur, Manali and IIT
Madras. This apart, real-time data from a monitoring station in the US Consulate, is also used to provide updates.
Dr Papa said he came up with this idea following the fire accident at Chennai Silk. “As of now, there is no system of health advisories for the residents during the episodes of severe air pollution. We saw this during the fire at Chennai Silks in T Nagar. For at least three weeks after the fire, residents complained about severe respiratory discomfort and I kept receiving patients with several asthmatic problems. This was because no health information was provided to them. Through the radio, which is a popular medium, we hope that citizens will be better prepared to tackle poor air quality days,” he explained.
Experts say Chennai faces an air pollution crisis almost as severe at Delhi and other cities in the
North. Also contrary to the popular belief, not just the industrial zones of north Chennai but the entire city has poor to very poor air quality. A 2017 study by the Coastal Resource Center indicated that high income residential areas of Chennai like Poes Garden and Boat Club have PM 2.5 levels almost twice the standards prescribed by the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
Shweta Narayan of Healty Energy Initiative (India) said though the information from four CAMS is not adequate to provide updates, the locations where these monitors are located are among the worst affected in terms of pollution during peak hours. “Besides, there are plans to set-up five CAMS as part of a civil initiative in OMR, Ennore, Mount Road and at Huma Lung Foundation,” she said.
Tamil Nadu Pollution Board operates eight manual ambient air quality monitoring stations, National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) has three and an additional 24 CAMS are set-up by industries in Manali and Gummidipoodi areas whose data will be sent to TNPCB, public don’t have access to information from these stations. “If we look at TNPCB website, the data is not readily available. It’s hidden deep inside the website, besides there is no measure of PM2.5, the most troubling pollutant among all. It’s data serves no purpose,” Shweta said.
You can look for pollution levels from CPCB CAMS here: http://www.cpcb.gov.in/CAAQM/frmStationdetails.aspx?cityID=546