Increasing levels of Nitrous Oxide in the air, thanks to rising pollution, point to another increasing risk that Bangalore faces - Ozone pollution.
With the state’s pollution control board being ill-equipped to even monitor pollution, let alone issue warnings, the IISc has now proposed to the Central Pollution Control Board to do just this.
Speaking at the regional workshop and open forum on fuel efficiency, Mahesh Kashyap, consultant, Centre for Infrastructure, Sustainable Transport and Urban Planning (CISTuP), IISc, said that while there was real-time monitoring in Delhi, there was no warning system to alert citizens.
“The data currently available is from 2009. Like in cities such as Toronto, where citizens are warned when there is high levels of Ozone in the atmosphere, we too need to develop a system where there is both real-time monitoring as well as a mechanism to alert citizens”, he said.
While Ozone in the stratosphere forms a protective layer around the earth and protects it from ultraviolet rays of the sun, it can be generated on the ground when Nitrous Oxide compounds (NOx) and non-methane volatile organic compounds (from vehicular emissions) react in the presence of sunlight, he explained.
Ozone at the surface level is formed in high temperature, for instance, during summer. Increasing vehicular population in Bangalore, rise in temperatures and the increasing levels of NOx can lead to Ozone formation at surface levels in the city.
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency website, “Breathing ozone can trigger a variety of health problems including chest pain, coughing, throat irritation and congestion. It can worsen bronchitis, emphysema and asthma. Ground-level ozone also can reduce lung function and inflame the linings of the lungs. Repeated exposure may permanently scar lung tissue.”
The IISc proposal, submitted in December, comes against the background of rise in health issues such as asthma because of increasing pollution, said Kashyap.
“Asthma patterns in summer has gone up from 2.8 per cent in 1994 to 19.7 per cent in 2004 to 28.8 per cent in 2010.” The proposal looks at a duration of about 2.5 years at a cost of about `80 lakh per year. The study will also look at preparing an air pollution index. “We want to measure in tonnes, the quantum of air pollution from different sources, be it vehicles or industries, and try to get to the root of the problem,” he said.