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|Air pollution level||Air quality index||Main pollutant|
|Unhealthy|| 164* US AQI||PM2.5|
PM2.5 concentration in Ranchi is currently 16 times the WHO annual air quality guideline value
Unhealthy 164 AQI US
|Friday, Dec 1|
Unhealthy 157 AQI US
|Saturday, Dec 2|
Unhealthy 155 AQI US
|Sunday, Dec 3|
Unhealthy 153 AQI US
|Monday, Dec 4|
Unhealthy 155 AQI US
|Tuesday, Dec 5|
Unhealthy for sensitive groups 147 AQI US
|Wednesday, Dec 6|
Unhealthy for sensitive groups 117 AQI US
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Ranchi is a city found in Jharkhand, an Indian state located in the eastern region of India. It is one of the oldest cities in the state, having had a prominent past due to its location as well as climate, with changes in weather being more noticeable than many other cities throughout India, something that can also factor in to the level of air pollution present (due to the colder temperatures that can occur in Ranchi during the winter months). It is amongst one of the hundred different cities to have been selected to undergo further development to become a smart city, under the initiative of India’s smart city mission. Whilst this hints to a future where the city will see itself relying on more sustainable fuel sources and creating less pollution, in the meantime, the rapid changes occurring in the city have had considerable effects on its pollution levels.
In the early months of 2021, Ranchi was found to be recording PM2.5 readings as high as 83.3 μg/m³, a reading that would place Ranchi into the ‘unhealthy’ air quality ratings bracket, which requires a PM2.5 reading of anywhere between 55.5 to 150.4 μg/m³ to be classified as such. As the name suggests, this is a very dangerous level of air pollution that can have many far reaching consequences to those who are subject to breathing it. Whilst there were also lows of 39.2 μg/m³ recorded (still a substantial reading when compared to cities worldwide), it stands to reason that the air in Ranchi is at a dangerous level, and could do much to improve as the city moves forward into the future under its smart city initiative.
As a rapidly growing city, Ranchi is naturally subject to a large amount of polluting sources, some of them preexisting ones, and many of them novel causes that have reared their head in the last decade, making air pollution a more prominent topic than ever before, due to the disastrous effects it can have on people’s health. One of these main ones would be the huge rise in population, with the city having last been recorded as having 1.457 million inhabitants in 2011, a number that will surely have risen significantly in the last decade.
With an ever increasing population, there would also be a large rise in vehicle usage. This is one of the more prominent causes of pollution, with countless cars, motorbikes and other vehicles inhabiting the roads and putting out huge clouds of exhaust smoke and fumes, all of which contains a myriad of chemical pollutants and fine particulate matter.
Other prominent causes of pollution in Ranchi stem from the large rise in energy expenditure that is needed for its growing population. Power plants running on fossil fuels such as coal would also put out large amounts of pollution from the combustion process, which when coupled with the aforementioned cold winter months that Ranchi experiences, can skyrocket during these times due to increased need for heating for both homes and businesses. Other sources include ones such as the burning of firewood and other organic material for heating and cooking, as well as the open burning of garbage and refuse. Construction sites and road repairs can also be prominent sources, more so than most people are cognizant of, with huge clouds of finely ground dust and heavy metals being released into the atmosphere from these locations.
With PM2.5 readings going as high as the aforementioned 83.3 μg/m³, and far beyond in some cases, the chance of adverse health effects occurring is extremely high. Of note is that any pollution reading above the World Health Organizations (WHO's) target goal of 10 μg/m³ or less has the chance to cause problems, and naturally the higher the reading is the higher the chance of an incident occurring is, alongside its severity.
Some health issues include vastly elevated rates of cancer, particularly of the lungs and throat due to the carcinogenic nature of fine particulate matter (with ones such as black carbon and finely ground silica having known cancer causing properties). Others include a wide array of respiratory issues such as pneumonia, bronchitis and emphysema, as well as a large amount of general health issues such as nausea, vomiting, irritation to the skin and mucous membranes, as well as damage to the lung tissue leading to increased instances of the previously mentioned respiratory conditions.
The main types of pollutants found in the air in Ranchi would be ones that arise from the number of different combustion sources. These would include materials such as black carbon and volatile organic compounds (VOC's), both of which find origin in the incomplete combustion of both fossil fuels as well as organic material, and as such will be emitted from sources ranging from car engines, factory processes to even the burning of firewood or other raw materials. Some examples of VOC's include chemicals such as benzene, toluene, xylene, methylene chloride and formaldehyde.
Other pollutants would be ones such as nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2) alongside polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls, dioxins, furans and even heavy metals such as lead, mercury and cadmium. This goes to show the wide range of pollutants found in the air in Ranchi, and how important it is to reduce their presence.
Some further initiatives that the city can take would be to start phasing out the use of fossil fuels across both vehicles and industrial zones, as well as placing emission caps on them. Cars that are older that 15 years or fail to pass emission standards can be removed from the roads, something which is of significant concern currently due to the large amount of offending vehicles on the road (with these older models leaking far more noxious oil vapors and hazardous particulate matter than a newer or cleaner counterpart would).
The placing of emission caps on factories or power plants can also go a long way in assisting the reduction of air pollution, with offending sources that breach these safe emissions caps being held liable for charges or possible shutdown. These are a few of the ways that Ranchi could move towards improving its air quality levels in the future.