Air Pollution in Mumbai

Air Pollution in Mumbai

News: Air Pollution in Mumbai is on the rise with several factors contributing to the menace. We understand the air pollution issue in Mumbai, its causes and way forward.

Air Pollution in Mumbai:
• Data from System of Air quality and Weather Forecast and Research (SAFAR) – under Ministry of Earth Sciences showed that Mumbai recorded its worst AQI last winter with city registering poor and very poor AQI on as many as 66 of the 92 days between November 2022 and January 2023-compared to an average of 28 during those months over the previous 3 years.
• The PM levels are equivalent to smoking 5-6 cigarettes a day.
• 14,396 people succumbed to chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD) between 2016 and 2021 in the city. On an average, 6 people died due to COPD daily during this time.
• 1,220 Mumbaikars died due to Bronchitis between 2016 and 2021.

What are the top Air Pollution sources in Mumbai?
• Dust from construction sites, debris. (Top source)
• Road dust
• Open burning of solid waste, garbage.
• Use of unclean fuels by eateries.
• Industries like ready-mix concrete and casting yard plants.

What is the public health cost of Air Pollution?
• Exposure of school children to this air quality (akin to smoking 5-6 cigarettes each day) particularly while their developing lungs remain vulnerable. This carries the potential for serious consequences, including the risk of respiratory diseases in their future.
• Mumbai has witnessed a gradual rise in lung cancer fatalities from 621 in 2009 to 923 in 2021.
• There are reports of a rising curve when it comes to asthma and respiratory illnesses.
• Global studies have observed associate air pollutants with lung cancer. The PM2.5 can induce mutations in normal cells, potentially leading to cancer.

Why construction dust is lethal for Children and labourers?
• Places which have higher number of construction works going are more likely to record poorer AQI.
• Construction dust throws up particulate matter whose composition is a mixture of liquid and solid elements that include cement, sand, stone, wood, chemicals, and even metal.
• Long-term (months to years) exposure to PM2.5 has been linked to premature death, particularly in people who have chronic heart or lung diseases, and reduced lung function growth in children.
• A landmark study by the California Air Resources Board showed how air pollution reduces children’s lung growth and function, impacts respiratory health in asthmatic children, and contributes to increased school absences.
• The 10-year study found that significant lung function deficits most closely associated with exposure to nitrogen dioxide, atmospheric acidity, PM2.5 and PM10; decreased lung development may have permanent adverse effects in adulthood. And, significantly, children who move to cleaner communities with lower levels of PM have improvements in lung function growth rates.
• Thus, compared to adults, the impact of air pollution on children is more.

What Mumbai needs to do?
• Protect Children from Construction dust and all forms of Air pollution.
• Civic bodies must take measures to recycle waste material and debris from construction sites as well as reuse the recycled debris again and again. Delhi has mandated that 10% of material used at construction sites must be recycled.
• Impose penalties on open waste burning.
• Decentralized waste management and bio-methanation plants are recommended solutions.
• Holistic waste management policy and strict penalties to tackle pollution problems.
•  Protect the on-site construction workers. Give them necessary equipment as they are vulnerable to dust and on-site pollution.
• Continues sprinkling of water on debris to ensure dust remains wet. (Part of SOP to mitigate dust) 

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