Now Assam to get ‘Vayu’ mobile app to know the quality of air and safety standards

By Gaurav Das

Guwahati, October 22: With the Lancet journal reporting that 2.5 million people in India died on account of air pollution in 2015, denizens of the largest city of Northeast here have no idea about the quality of air they are breathing with the pollution emitting vehicles plying on the road continue to increase on a daily basis.

An average human take 20, 000 breaths every day, and denizens in the city are no exception.

Although denizens have no idea the quality of air they inhale and are not aware of the precautionary dos and don’ts they need to resort to. But that’s going to change soon as technology in the form of Value Air You Use(VAYU) will soon equip denizens about the deserving knowledge of their surrounding air quality and the needed assurance about the right moment to step outside their homes for both children and adults alike.

The India chapter of Clean Air Asia (CAA), an international organization dedicated to enhance better air quality and reduce air pollution, has developed the mobile application that will enable denizens across 14 cities pan India to know the quality of air pollution outside their homes.

CAA has included the city of Guwahati among the 14 cities in view of the level of air deterioration that the city has witnessed in the past few years.

The WHO’s safety threshold of PM 2.5 for humans is 10 micrograms per meter cube annual mean.

Prarthana Bora, director, CAA, India informed that VAYU is going to update people regarding the quality of air they are breathing.

Bora also added that in Assam there is no accurate data and information about levels of particulate matter (PM) and other sources of air pollution and that the public in Assam are not aware about the quality of air they are breathing.

CAA, India is also in talks with local officials from GMC for an air action plan and policy for a feasible approach and discussions on effective pollution monitoring stations and public awareness.

PM 2.5 particles comprise of particles emanated from automobiles, and heavy metals and toxic compounds.

The first phase data of a year old study that was undertaken last year on ‘Urban Black Carbon Emission-Its Global Impact and Local Mitigation’ on black carbon emission from the city’s vehicles was tabulated five months ago and unearthed pollution trends at some arterial roads in the city.

The analysis revealed that from Lachit Nagar, a prime location in the city, alone emitted 111.295 micrograms per cubic meters of PM 2.5 particles during winter.

These seasonal studies of emissions were recorded from more than five locations like Bamunimaidam, Kamakhya Gate, Athgaon, AT Road, Lachit Nagar, Lokhara and Khanapara.

The study was carried out jointly by the Department of Science and Technology (Government of India) in collaboration with the civil engineering department of IIT-G over a period of one year.

Experts said this was multiple times higher than World Health Organization (WHO’S) permissible limit for PM 2.5 which are 10 micrograms per cubic meters annual mean and 25 micrograms per cubic meters 24 hour mean.

“The data from Lachit Nagar after clearly shows that the situation is alarming. The 111.295 figure clearly shows that it is more than the permissible limit. Obviously it is risky for public health. The main objective of this study is to observe the flow of PM 2.5 particles, black carbon biomass and black carbon fossil fuel during different seasons. After one year we will get the real picture,” said Sharad Gokhale, professor of environmental engineering, department of civil engineering, IIT-G.

Presently data only from Lachit Nagar was processed as pollution inputs from other locations have almost been processed.

PM 2.5 particles are lighter and float in the air longer and have the ability to travel long distances.

PM 2.5 particles can travel deeper into human lungs. In the long run it may cause cancer and serious respiratory problems.

The 2016 data from Lachit Nagar also revealed PM 2.5 pollutant concentration during post monsoon was 23.65 and during last year Diwali were 214.37 micrograms per cubic meters respectively.

Black carbon biomass emissions during last year’s post monsoon, Diwali and winter seasons were 1.72, 3.99 and 3.46 micrograms per cubic meters respectively.

Black carbon fossil fuel emission during post monsoon, Diwali and winter were 11.3, 27.28 and 19.205 micrograms per cubic meters.

Black Carbon is next to CO2 as an agent in Global Warming. It is rapidly expanding and considered a strong force in heating the earth’s atmosphere through its tendency in absorbing sunlight.

2.5 particles comprise of particles emanated from automobiles, and heavy metals and toxic compounds.