|6||New Delhi, Delhi|
|7||Shivaji Nagar, Maharashtra|
|8||Muragacha, West Bengal|
|9||Karol Bagh, Delhi|
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Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups
|Air pollution level||Air quality index||Main pollutant|
|Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups|| 142* US AQI||PM2.5|
PM2.5 concentration in Asansol is currently 10.4 times the WHO annual air quality guideline value
|Saturday, Feb 4|
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups 143 US AQI
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups 142 US AQI
|Monday, Feb 6|
Unhealthy 153 US AQI
|Tuesday, Feb 7|
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups 133 US AQI
|Wednesday, Feb 8|
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups 148 US AQI
|Thursday, Feb 9|
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups 121 US AQI
|Friday, Feb 10|
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups 134 US AQI
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Asansol is a city located in West Bengal, a state in India that faces onto the Bay of Bengal. It is the second largest city within the state, as well as being the most heavily populated, a fact that plays a large role in the deteriorating air quality seen within the city. Asansol has had some less than appreciable levels of air quality on record in the last few years, and this has continued on well into present times.
In April of 2021, Asansol was seen with a US AQI reading of 85, placing it in the higher end of the ‘moderate’ pollution ratings bracket. US AQI is a measurement of the air quality that is comprised of multiple pollutants (with ones such as PM2.5, PM10, nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and ozone (O3) being taken into account). Whilst this reading of 85 is not overtly bad for the period of time in which it was taken, looking at the data on record in the previous days and months, one can see that the air pollution level went up to some particularly bad heights, with US AQI readings going up to 178, as well as many other days between April and March displaying ‘unhealthy’ readings of air quality.
Observing the air quality gathered over the course of 2020 in Asansol, a more concise measure of how the years pollution levels typically look can be ascertained. Asansol came in with a yearly PM2.5 reading of 55.3 μg/m³ as its average, a reading that just barely placed it within the ‘unhealthy for sensitive groups’ bracket, which requires a PM2.5 reading of anywhere between 35.5 to 55.4 μg/m³ to be classified as such. As can be seen, Asansol was only 0.1 unit away from moving up into the next pollution category, the ‘unhealthy’ ratings one, which requires its own reading of 55.5 to 150.4 μg/m³ for classification.
As the name suggests, the reading of PM2.5 taken over the course of 2020 indicates that many people would be at risk of suffering from severely adverse health conditions, and as will be discussed later on in the article, a few months went way up in their pollution levels, far above the yearly average. These would be times in which the air would be permeated with thick clouds of smog, haze, smoke and other hazardous chemicals and particulate matter, being of great danger to the health of Asansol’s citizens.
This reading of 55.3 μg/m³ placed Asansol in 39th place out of all cities ranked in India, as well as 64th place out of all cities ranked worldwide. This is a very high ranking, being in the upper sphere of most polluted cities worldwide, and as such Asansol can still do much to improve the quality of its air and reduce the pollution levels.
The main causes of pollution in Asansol typically arise as a result of combustion, with multiple sources present such as boilers in factories and power plants, as well as any other similar industrial facilities (which aside from fuel combustion related pollution, can also release their own unique industrial effluence such as burnt plastic fumes or heavy metals). Vehicles play a prominent role in the buildup of pollution, with large amounts of cars, tuk tuk’s and heavier freight vehicles such as lorries or trucks being present on the road at any given time.
These different vehicles can all release numerous chemical compounds and both fine (PM2.5) and coarse (PM10) particles into the air. Asansol, like many cities in India, has a large amount of aged and outdated vehicles still on the roads, due to lack of stringent regulations being imposed. These older vehicles can leak larger amounts of oil vapor and other dangerous contaminants, and when combined with lower quality fuels, can be highly pollutive and become one of the main ambient sources of pollution to occur year round, along with industrial emissions.
Other prominent sources of air pollution present in the city include ones such as the burning of waste and refuse, as well as firewood and charcoal in people’s homes. Huge accumulations of dust from various sources such as poorly paved roads and sidewalks, as well as construction sites or any general area in which large amounts of earth are disturbed also contribute massively to the amount of particles in the air, which can cause far reaching effects on those who breathe such particles, with scarring of the lungs, reduced lung function as well as a whole host of respiratory ailments all being possible.
Observing the PM2.5 readings taken over the course of 2020, it can be seen that the first and last two months of the year had the highest levels of pollution. January and February, as well as November and December, all came in with PM2.5 readings that hit the ‘unhealthy’ ratings bracket, with respective numbers of 89.2 μg/m³, 72.9 μg/m³, 64.6 μg/m³ and 86.4 μg/m³.
These numbers indicate that a yearly pattern is present, whereby the pollution levels start to rise at the end of the year, and continue on into the early months of the following year, before dropping down somewhat. In 2020, January was the most polluted month with its reading of 89.2 μg/m³.
In direct contrast to the most polluted months, the times of relative air cleanliness came in the center of the year. The months of June through to September all came in with better readings of PM2.5, and although they were still within the ‘unhealthy for sensitive groups’ bracket, their readings were on the lower end of this rating. From June to September, the readings were, respectively, 40.6 μg/m³, 39.7 μg/m³, 36.8 μg/m³ and 36.7 μg/m³, making September the cleanest month of the year.
Whilst all members of the population are at risk of developing some form of pollution related ailment, it remains to be seen that certain groups would be at even greater risk. These groups include people such as the elderly or infirm, as well as young children and babies. Pregnant mothers are also at grave danger when over-exposure to pollution occurs, as well as those who are hypersensitive to certain chemical pollutants also being at risk.
Those with pre-existing health conditions and compromised immune systems should also take extra care to reduce their exposure, particularly pertaining to those who are afflicted with any respiratory or cardiac related ailment.