KOCHI: The smog in New Delhi has set alarm bells ringing for metro cities in the country and the urban bodies across the nation are chalking out plans to avoid the toxic haze engulfing the metros. According to a study by the World Health Organisation, millions are inhaling air containing dangerous levels of toxic gas which can cause various ailments. The presence of respirable suspended particulate matter (PM10) can penetrate the respiratory system of human beings and cause disorders.
Though the air pollution in Kochi has not risen to alarming levels, the City Corporation organised a multi-stakeholder consultation meeting in association with Clean Air Asia, an international non-profit organisation working for better air quality in urban areas, to tackle the air pollution problem and improve air quality in the urban area here on Thursday.
The aim of the meeting was to provide a platform for experts to discuss the environment hazard and develop a clean air action plan. The experts and Clean Air Asia will help the civic administration to develop an action plan to improve air quality on the basis of the guidance framework offered in association with technology providers Faurecia Clean Mobility Ltd."The PM10 can pass through the natural protective mechanism of human respiratory system and cause allergic disorders," said Nansen Environmental Research Centre scientist G Bindu. She had conducted a study, along with Ajo Abraham Kurian of Cusat, on the air pollution status in Kochi and its impact on the health of children below 15 years.
"An analysis of the primary data showed high level of pollution. In the case of Acute respiratory Illness (ARI), there is a seasonal decrease which can be due to atmospheric changes. But there are pockets which show more incidence of ARI which can be related to air pollution. The effects may be different for high pollution exposure with shorter duration and low pollution exposure with long duration," she said.
Usually, the air pollution problem will be exacerbated during winter season due to unfavourable conditions for dispersal, stable conditions, low wind speed and other factors, said Bindu.
Expressing concern over the deteriorating air quality in Kochi, Mayor Soumini Jain said we treat air as a free commodity and care less about it. "It is time we took the initiative to make a difference," she said.
Centre for Heritage, Environment and Development director Rajan Chedambath said Edappally and Mattancherry are the most polluted areas in the city.
"The transport sector, the construction sector and the industries are responsible for the deteriorating air quality. We need to evolve a multi-pronged approach to create awareness on air quality," he said. The loss of biomass has contributed to the drop in air quality, said Ratheesh Menon of SCMS. The burning of garbage including plastic is an environmental hazard, he said.