VIJAYAWADA: Environmentalists and health specialist in Vijayawada are appealing the officials concerned to accord top priority in reducing Particulate Matter (PM2.5) levels, which is more harmful than PM10. The city has earned the dubious distinction of topping the list of non-attainment cities in the State in PM10 levels over the past three years.
Commenting on the data released by Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board (APPCB), city-based environmentalists said that depletion of greenery and growth in construction activity were the major contributors for rise in PM10 levels in the city. However, rise in PM2.5 levels can be attributed to high vehicular emission, dust and ash.
The average PM2.5 levels — fine particulate matter in the air with diameter of less than 2.5 micrometer — recorded in the city over the past three years is 28 whereas the average PM10 levels is 104.
“Air pollution is now the third-highest cause of death among all health risks in India, ranking just above smoking. This is a combined effect of PM2.5 levels, ozone layer depletion and emission of noxious gases. Particulate matter in the air is based on the size of the pollutants. PM10 indicates the particles have diameter of 10 microns, whose effect is mostly limited to lungs. However, PM2.5 is deadlier than PM10 as it goes deep into our lungs and even blood due to its smaller size,” environmentalist Ajay Katragadda told TNIE.
He added that recent studies have found air pollution can acutely and chronically affect literally every organ in the body. “Ultra-fine particles pass through lungs and land up in blood stream, exposing every cell of the body to the ill-effects of air pollution. The toxic air can effect fertility and foetuses,” he added, urging people to use public transport and plant more trees to bring down PM2.5 levels.
Interventional pulmonologist K Bhanu Kiran claimed that respiratory problems have increased in the city over the past five years since it was designated as a part of State capital Amaravati. “On an average, the hospital where I work receives at least 10-15 cases pertaining to respiratory problems every day. Most of patients are from farming and sales background as they are more prone to inhaling pollutants,” he said.