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|Air pollution level||Air quality index||Main pollutant|
|Unhealthy|| 174* US AQI||PM2.5|
PM2.5 concentration in Ghaziabad is currently 19.9 times the WHO annual air quality guideline value
Unhealthy 174 AQI US
|Friday, Dec 8|
Unhealthy 152 AQI US
|Saturday, Dec 9|
Unhealthy for sensitive groups 149 AQI US
|Sunday, Dec 10|
Unhealthy for sensitive groups 141 AQI US
|Monday, Dec 11|
Unhealthy for sensitive groups 149 AQI US
|Tuesday, Dec 12|
Unhealthy for sensitive groups 147 AQI US
|Wednesday, Dec 13|
Unhealthy 157 AQI US
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Ghaziabad is a city in India located in the state of Uttar Pradesh, as well as being part of the national capital region of Delhi. It has a colloquial name of being the gateway to Uttar Pradesh, due to its location and close proximity to Delhi. As one would gather from being a gateway city, it would see high levels of traffic that would affect levels of air quality, with high volumes of cars, trucks, motorbikes and buses all making their way in and out of the city, putting out large volumes of smoke and haze, as well as PM10 and PM2.5, fine particulate matter of 10 (or 2.5) micrometers or less in diameter, with PM2.5 being roughly 3% the size of a human hair. Due to its incredibly small size and variety of materials it is comprised off, it presents a number of dangers to human health, and as such it is one of the main figures used when calculating levels of pollution in the air.
To observe the numbers recorded over 2019, they show that Ghaziabad is indeed an extremely polluted city, taking the number one spot out of all countries in the world in terms of their levels of pollution. This is indicative that pollution in Ghaziabad is somewhat catastrophic, with many months of the year having PM2.5 readings that could cause severe damage to anyone who breathes it, both long and short term. The yearly average over 2019 was 110.2 µg/m³, putting it into the ‘unhealthy’ bracket, which requires a reading of anywhere between 55.5 to 150.4 µg/m³. There were many months that came in significantly higher than this, which will be discussed in further detail.
Once again observing the readings taken over 2019, the months that came in with the worst pollution readings were the very beginning and end of the year, showing that the months of October through to January will see the highest levels of smoke and haze and other noxious fumes in the air.
September 2019 came in with a rather innocuous reading of 37.7 µg/m³, making it moderately polluted but not enough to warrant any serious concern (although still detrimental to portions of the population). This was followed by a monumental leap up to 158.6 µg/m³ in October, followed by an even further leap up to 235.8 µg/m³ in November, followed by 235.9 µg/m³ in December for the yearly high. January shows a shift away from these higher numbers, indicating that the worst of the pollution is coming to an end, but with the city still in the midst of its pollution peaks. Respite was finally seen in February, with a PM2.5 reading of 29.5 µg/m³, making it the cleanest month of the year in 2019.
This is a strong indicator that the end of the year from October onwards is when the pollution levels are at their worst, with a drop not being seen until February of the next year. High levels of preventative measures should be taken during these months, with the avoidance of outdoor activity being preferable as well as the wearing of particle filtering masks.
Looking at the data taken over the last few years, it shows that in fact the pollution levels are improving (by quite significant numbers), although not by enough to knock it off of the 1st place position out of all cities in the world. In 2017, the PM2.5 yearly average was 144.6 µg/m³, followed by an average reading of 135.2 µg/m³ in 2018.
As mentioned previously, the 2019 average was 110.2 µg/m³, which shows that since 2017, Ghaziabad has managed to knock 34.4 µg/m³ off of its yearly average of PM2.5 readings, displaying that it has gotten better. However, there is still much room for improvement if it is to see rankings that take it off the 1st place spot of most polluted cities worldwide.
The reasons behind Ghaziabad's extremely high levels of pollution are twofold, with vehicles and industry playing one large role. However, one of the biggest factors would appear to be Ghaziabad's urban topography (as well as human activity), with huge amounts of dust accumulating in the city and being unable to disperse. This has led to it being known as a ‘dustbowl’, with factors such as construction sites, soil dugouts and other occurrences involving the mass movement and shifting of dirt being huge contributors to the levels of fine particulate matter found in the air.
Construction sites in a rapidly expanding city often lack the stringent rules required to keep the dust spillage to a minimum, and as such there are large amounts of finely ground dirt, concrete, microplastics and metals such as lead and mercury making their way into the atmosphere via these sites. The previously mentioned dugouts are constant sources of air pollution, with wind blowing over them releasing millions more microscopic particles of PM2.5 and PM10 into the air.
Vehicular emissions would count for the huge amounts of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in the air, with large traffic volume often directly correlating with nitrogen dioxide output. Other toxic chemicals and materials that would be released would include ones such as sulfur dioxide (SO2), carbon monoxide (CO) as well as black carbon, volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) and furans.
Diesel fuel often puts out higher pollution levels when compared to cleaner alternatives, with black carbon and VOC’s all being produced from the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels (as well as the burning of organic matter such as wood or dead plant matter), all of which have disastrous consequences on human health.
In closing, the large amounts of dust accumulating within the city limits, in combination with fumes and smoke released from vehicles and factories, would all combine together to create the extremely high PM2.5 readings as seen over the last few years.
With PM2.5 readings as high as 235.9µg/m³ being recorded (putting in the ‘very unhealthy’ category) it is safe to say that the risks for pollution related illnesses are extremely high. They would include, to name a few, respiratory related problems such as chest and throat infections, irritation to the skin, eyes, nose and mouth, as well as a large number of lung related issues such as emphysema, asthma attacks, bronchitis and pretty much any condition that falls under the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) bracket.
Due to the incredibly small size of PM2.5, it can cross the blood barrier via the air sacs in the lungs, and once in the bloodstream cause a myriad of issues such as damage to blood vessels, increased risk of heart attacks and diseases, as well as damage to the kidneys, liver and reproductive system. Babies exposed whilst in the womb have a higher chance of being stillborn, or if they survive, being born with birth defects, a low birth weight and prematurely, all adding to the already elevated fatality rate. With air quality this bad, the use of air quality maps as found on the IQAir website would be of great help in knowing when the pollution levels are at their worst, information also available on the AirVisual app that can be used whilst on the go.