TIRUPATI: Citizens stepping out of their homes for a casual walk in Tirupati should be wary of possible health hazards as the temple town has been recording a rising trend in pollution levels. According to the Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB) bulletin, the average Air Quality Index (AQI) stood at 231 in the past 24 hours, ending 4 pm on Thursday, with the prominent pollutant being PM 2.5.
The daily average level of PM 2.5 hovered above the standard level, registering a maximum of 336 and minimum of 90, while the average remained at 235. The AQI stood a bit higher at 263 on November 16. Over the past two days, the temple town has witnessed pollution levels similar to that of the national capital. It may be noted that every year, pollution levels shoot up in Delhi during winters.
Such a high AQI is an unusual phenomenon in Tirupati, as the city has never recorded such levels of pollution even on Diwali nights. This year, AQI was recorded way below 100 on Diwali night.SV University Environmental Sciences Head of Department Prof T Damodaram said, “The rise in pollution levels could be high because of smog, vehicular pollution and pollen content getting mixed in ambient air, which usually happens during this time of year.”
Terming the smog in Tirupati catastrophic, the professor recalled how the 1930 Meuse Valley fog and 1930 and Great Smog of London in 1952 had killed several people.He explained that people could experience breathlessness, discomfort in the throat and lungs due to high AQI.
Sai Praneeth, popularly known as AP Weatherman, explained that the unusual surge in pollution levels could be attributed to the prevailing dry winds being pushed to the South from the northern parts of India due to a low-pressure system brewing up in the sea, resulting in dust and pollutant particles getting accumulated and remaining in the air.
“The pollution levels are expected to drop once it starts raining in Tirupati, which is most likely next week,” the weather blogger noted. Pulmonologist at SVR Ruia Hospital, Dr Subba Rao advised people to limit their outdoor activities. Elders and children having allergies and ailments such as Asthma, Tuberculosis (TB), Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and breathing issues should use a mask to protect themselves from pollution, he said.
Meanwhile, Vizag recorded an AQI of 210, followed by Rajamahendravaram (157), Anantapur (155), and Amaravati (142) in the 24 hours ending 4 pm on November 17. The AQI value in these cities was in the poor and moderate categories.
What is Particulate Matter (PM)?
An indicator for air pollution, PM affects more people than any other pollutant. It consists of a complex mixture of solid and liquid particles of organic and inorganic substances suspended in the air. Particles with a diameter of 10 microns or less (≤ PM10) can penetrate and lodge deep inside the lungs, but particles with a diameter less than 2.5 microns (PM 2.5) can be even more harmful. PM2.5 can penetrate the lung barrier and enter the blood system. Chronic exposure to the particles contributes to the risk of developing cardio- vascular and respiratory diseases