BENGALURU: Air Quality in the Garden City is actually moderately bad, according to the World Health Organization, but experts say the situation could actually be worse.The WHO’s 2019 World Air Quality Report which assessed particulate matter (PM) 2.5 of top cities across the globe found that Bengaluru’s annual average is 32.6 micro grams per metre cube, against the standard value of 10 micrograms per metre cube. This means that sensitive people may experience respiratory symptoms.
Former KSPCB chairman H C Sharatchandra said, “The city’s value is moderate, but how far is 32 from 35, to move from moderate to unhealthy? The PM 2.5 is moderate because of the monsoon period (May to October) when PM level is less as the rain helps particulate matter settle, but from November to January levels are high where there is high precipitation. PM is largely because of vehicles and construction activity, where little monitoring and management is done. It clearly means that Bengaluru is approaching towards unhealthy air.”
The report also points out there are limited air quality monitoring network given its population size and highly populated cities do not have access to real-time information.The report shows that at 32.6, Bengaluru’s PM 2.5 levels (PM 2.5 is a pollutant) are not much different from that of Chennai’s (34.6), with Delhi being the worst-polluted. Interestingly Bengaluru’s PM 2.5 has not been much different when compared to previous years of 32.1 in 2017 and 34.5 in 2018.
Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) officials and experts say that given Bengaluru’s size and population, the city requires at least 26 air quality monitoring stations but has just 13. “Though on an average Bengaluru’s air looks better, monthly data does not show so. Since there are few monitoring stations, all areas are not assessed. Long-term measures to reduce air pollution have been drawn up, but work is slow,” said a KSPCB official. Despite repeated attempts KPSCB chairman and member secretary were not available for a comment.