The city's air quality could soon be as bad as that of Delhi. According to the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, the city's air pollution levels have taken a serious hit in the past few years with the percentage of pollutants arising from vehicle emissions increasing considerably.
Mangesh Dighe, environment officer of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), said, "Pollutants like sulphur, nitrogen dioxide, PM 2.5 and PM 10 particles were found to be higher than the prescribed level in the city’s air. Vehicle emission is the major reason for the problem and is dangerous because these particles can reach deep into one’s lungs and cause serious health hazards." But the PMC is undertaking consistent efforts to curb the rising pollution through awareness campaigns, he added.
The fuels used in vehicles can increase the amount of sulphur dioxide in air. According to PMC’s environment department, the city’s air had an average of 42 microgram/cubic metre of sulphur in 2017 as against 32 microgram/cubic metre in 2016. According to the PMC, the optimum limit of sulphur in air is 50 microgram/cubic metre.
As far as nitrogen is concerned, city’s air recorded an average level of 57 microgram/cubic metre of nitrogen in 2017, which is 12 points higher than the prescribed limit of 40 microgram/cubic metre, according to MPCB.
Experts have blamed the growth in number of vehicles in the city and the absence of efficient public transport systems for the consistently worsening air quality.
According to PMC’s environment department, PM-10 and PM 2.5 are injurious to human health as it causes lung-related diseases. The city recorded an average of 80 ug/m3 PM-10 and 68 ug/m3 PM 2.5 particles for 2017 while the permissible limit for these particles are 60 ug/m3 and 40 ug/m3 respectively.
Dr Sneha Limaye, a researcher at the Chest Research Institute, Pune, said,"Since the number of vehicles in the city has increased, proportionally, the amount of toxic gas in the city's air has also increased. This has caused pollution to grow significantly. PM-10 and PM 2.5 are very dangerous particles responsible for pulmonary diseases.”
System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR) has forecasted 152, 83 and 155, 84 PM-10 and PM 2.5 particle levels respectively for first two days of new year.