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|Air pollution level||Air quality index||Main pollutant|
|Unhealthy|| 152* US AQI||PM2.5|
PM2.5 concentration in Chandigarh is currently 11.4 times the WHO annual air quality guideline value
Unhealthy 152 AQI US
|Wednesday, Dec 6|
Unhealthy for sensitive groups 116 AQI US
|Thursday, Dec 7|
Unhealthy for sensitive groups 118 AQI US
|Friday, Dec 8|
Unhealthy for sensitive groups 131 AQI US
|Saturday, Dec 9|
Unhealthy for sensitive groups 134 AQI US
|Sunday, Dec 10|
Unhealthy for sensitive groups 130 AQI US
|Monday, Dec 11|
Unhealthy for sensitive groups 128 AQI US
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Chandigarh is a city that has a special role in its location, being the capital of both the Punjab and Haryana states. It finds itself located some 260km away from the capital of India, New Delhi, and has a significant history of growth and development during the times of India's independence.
It counts itself as one of several planned cities in in India, famous for its urban architecture and design. It is considered to be one of the wealthier cities in the country, with a majority of its workforce and economy centered around government based jobs, as well as having some prominence on the global stage as a hub for the IT field, hosting several multinational corporations.
Regarding its levels of pollution, despite being considered as a city with a good quality of life and income, the PM2.5 readings show that the air quality is not on such a positive side, with a yearly average of 52.6 μg/m³ having been recorded over 2019. This reading put Chandigarh into the upper echelons of the ‘unhealthy for sensitive groups’ bracket, one which requires a PM2.5 reading of anywhere between 35.5 to 55.4 μg/m³ to be classified as such.
From this, one can see that with an increase of only a few units, it would move up into the ‘unhealthy’ ratings bracket (55.5 to 150.4 μg/m³ required for classification). This is an indicator that the air quality is not only detrimental to sensitive groups, but could have outright dangerous consequences for many portions of the population who are subject to breathing its air year round.
This reading of 52.6 μg/m³ placed Chandigarh into 111th place out of all cities ranked worldwide, as well as 40th place in all cities ranked in India, showing that poor air quality is prevalent in the city and has much room for improvement.
As with many cities in India, Chandigarh would have multiple heavy sources of pollution, many of the piling on top of each other to create the compounding effect that sees such elevated levels of PM2.5, pm10 and other air contaminants in the atmosphere year round.
One of these causes would be the ever present vehicular emissions, with fumes from many personal vehicles such as cars and motorbikes creating vast clouds of haze that can permeate the air in areas that see high volumes of traffic, pushing out large amounts of pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) into the atmosphere.
Besides the use of personal vehicles, heavy duty ones such as buses, trucks and lorries also inhabit the roads, putting out far more pollution due to their size and often running on diesel fuels, or other unclean fuel sources (leaded fuels, fuels not subject to strict quality control and so on).
Other causes of pollution in Chandigarh which are on the radar for compounding the poor air quality are factory and industrial area emissions, often running on coal as well as giving out their own unique industrial effluence depending on what is being produced. The occasional open burning of refuse can rear its head as well, with people (often in lower income districts) resorting to the open burning of trash, both organic materials as well as synthetic materials which both release a plethora of dangerous chemicals. These are but a few of the pollutive sources, with other ones such as construction sites and road repairs also being responsible for leaking finely ground particulate matter as well as microplastics and heavy metals.
Observing the data taken over the course of 2019 as the most accurate measure of Chandigarh’s true pollution levels (due to 2020 having worldwide lockdowns occurring due to the covid-19 pandemic, which whilst it was great for reducing air pollution, does not give an accurate portrayal of what day to day normal life was like, hence why pre covid-19 data is being use).
As is common with many cities throughout India, the beginning and the very end of the year are when the pollution levels start to spike, sometimes very significantly. This correlates with the winter months, indicating a greater usage of energy for heating as well as increased burning of materials such as wood and charcoal, both for heating and cooking.
It is around September when the air quality starts to show a significant decline. September came in with a PM2.5 reading of 38, which was followed by a reading of 65.5 μg/m³ in October, showing that pollution levels had nearly doubled. This continued on until December, and then furthermore into the early months of next year, only abating around February, before pollution levels dropped significantly again. The most polluted month of the year was November, with a PM2.5 reading of 85.4 μg/m³, putting it into the ‘unhealthy’ ratings bracket.
Following on from the previous question directly, as mentioned, pollution levels rise at the end of the year and stay elevated until around February of the following year. To use early 2019’s data as an example again, February came in with a PM2.5 reading of 71.8 μg/m³, a very high pollution reading by any means.
This then dropped drastically in March, with a reading of 48.2 μg/m³. Although by international standards these readings are still fairly hazardous, they represent a better quality of air in Chandigarh. These lower readings continued until September, with the months of July and August possessing the cleanest air quality, with readings of 33.7 μg/m³ and 31.8 μg/m³ respectively, making August the cleanest month of the year.
With readings of pollution coming in as high as 85.4 μg/m³, and five months of the year coming in with ‘unhealthy’ ratings, there would be a large amount of health issues associated with breathing polluted air in Chandigarh, particularly if exposed continuously through lifestyle or location, such as those that have to commute by road to work every day or those who live in highly polluted areas.
Some ill health effects would be damage to the blood vessels, reduced lung capacity and rapid aging and scarring of the lung tissues, coupled with massive increases in incidences of pneumonia, emphysema, bronchitis and asthma, as well as general irritation to the respiratory tract as well as other mucous membranes, including the eyes, nose, and mouth.
Ischemic heart disease would be prevalent, as well as increased rates of arrythmias and heart attacks. Pregnant women would be at high risk of miscarriage if over exposed to pollution, alongside giving birth to babies that are either born prematurely or with low birth weight, causing infant mortality rates to go up. These are but a few of the ill side effects that may occur when over exposed to pollution in Chandigarh.