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|Air pollution level||Air quality index||Main pollutant|
|Unhealthy|| 153* US AQI||PM2.5|
PM2.5 concentration in Jaipur is currently 12 times the WHO annual air quality guideline value
Unhealthy 153 AQI US
|Wednesday, Dec 6|
Unhealthy for sensitive groups 103 AQI US
|Thursday, Dec 7|
Unhealthy for sensitive groups 106 AQI US
|Friday, Dec 8|
Unhealthy for sensitive groups 110 AQI US
|Saturday, Dec 9|
Unhealthy for sensitive groups 105 AQI US
|Sunday, Dec 10|
Moderate 99 AQI US
|Monday, Dec 11|
Unhealthy for sensitive groups 106 AQI US
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Jaipur is the capital city in the state of Rajasthan, also being one of the largest cities in the region. Located some 268km away from the Indian capital, New Delhi. It is home to just under four million people, and as such sees a large amount of pollution coming from human activity, with vehicles, industrial sectors, festivals and both manmade and naturally occurring fires all contributing to the overall levels of PM2.5 in the air.
PM2.5 refers to particulate matter that is 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter, roughly 3% of the width of a human hair, giving an example of just how microscopic it is. Due to its small size, it can have a number of negative healthy effects when inhaled, and as such is considered a major figure when calculating the overall levels of pollution. In 2019, Jaipur came in with a yearly average reading of 50.5 μg/m³, putting it into the higher end of the ‘unhealthy for sensitive groups bracket’, which requires a PM2.5 reading of anywhere between 35.5 to 55.4 μg/m³ to achieve such a classification.
Although there were numerous months throughout the year that put it in at a higher PM2.5 reading, there were also a few months of respite with lower readings, making the pollution throughout the year fairly sporadic, as is seen in many cities worldwide. This reading of 50.5 μg/m³ puts it in 120th place out of all cities ranked worldwide in 2019, and the 42nd most polluted city in India.
When observing the months of the year over 2019 and the various readings of particulate matter, it can be seen that January was the most polluted month out of the entire year, which shares some similarities with other cities in India, to give an example, the considerably more polluted city of Kolkata came in with a reading of 176 μg/m³ in January, a massive increase in PM2.5 when compared to the rest of the year.
Jaipur itself came in over January with a reading of 99.8 μg/m³, meaning that the beginning of the year would be a time when the air would be permeated with large amounts of smoke and noxious fumes. This reading places January into the ‘unhealthy’ bracket (55.5 to 150.4 μg/m³), making its pollution levels at the start of the year of great concern for a majority of its population, particularly the young, elderly and the immunocompromised. Other months of note were May, October and November, all of which came in with unhealthy readings, which were 56.1 μg/m³, 70.2 μg/m³ and 84.3 μg/m³ respectively.
Jaipur, like many cities would find itself subject to multiple sources of pollution, all playing varying roles throughout different months of the year, but with some that are consistent in the levels of ambient pollution they produce. The one that would be the most ‘ambient’ out of all of them would be emissions from vehicles, as well as factories. There are factories located all over Jaipur, with ones including chemical plants as well as plastic production lines. Anything involving the use of plastic would give out its own myriad of noxious gases and particles, with some of these gases including furans, dioxins, toxic metals such as mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (BCP’s).
With cars being part and parcel of everyday pollution in big cities, secondary pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide (NO2) would find themselves in high quantity in the air, often correlating directly with the amount of traffic a specific area sees. With high volumes of cars, motorbikes and trucks passing through any given area, the atmosphere will almost always show elevated readings of nitrogen dioxide. Moreover, there are many instances of the large garbage disposal heaps in the city catching fire, particularly during the summer months. When this occurs, the fumes from burnt plastic, wood and dead organic material would release large amounts of materials such as black carbon and volatile organic compounds into the air, causing choking fumes and smoke to find its way into the homes and streets of Jaipur's residents.
Of note is that it has been known for pollution levels to climb massively during the Diwali festival, with a huge number of firecrackers, fireworks and other smoke sources causing respiratory distress for residents in the days following.
With a year-round average of 50.5 μg/m³, and PM2.5 levels making their way up to as high as 99.8 μg/m³, it is safe to say that there would be a largely inflated risk of health effects occurring. These would include issues such as all manner of respiratory related conditions, such as emphysema, bronchitis, aggravated asthma attacks and any other condition that falls under the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease bracket.
With the incredibly small size of PM2.5 being a factor, it is able to penetrate deep into the tissue of the lungs, where it can enter into the alveoli, the tiny air sacs that allow oxygen to enter the bloodstream. From here it can heighten instances of lung cancer occurring, reduce overall levels of lung function, or in some instances actually cross the blood barrier and make its way into the bloodstream. Once this has occurred, the fine particulate matter can cause a large amount of disruption to the circulatory and cardiac systems, with damage to the blood vessels occurring, as well as increased instances of heart attacks, arrhythmias and other cardiac events. Damage to the liver, kidneys, and reproductive systems is also commonplace, and as such during the worse months of the year, many preventative measures should be put into place to avoid breathing the massively elevated levels of PM2.5.
Observing the data recorded over the last few years, it is apparent that the quality of air in Jaipur is indeed improving. Although the rate of improvement may not be as rapid as its citizens may hope for (with the World Health Organization’s target goal of 0 to 10 μg/m³ being a long way away), there are still signs of marked improvement. 2017 averaged in with a reading of 88.3 μg/m³, whilst 2018 came in with 67.6 μg/m³.
When compared to 2019’s average of 50.5 μg/m³, it shows that the average yearly PM2.5 rating had improved by 37.8 μg/m³ over the two years prior, hinting that as some point in the future, Jaipur may be able to achieve even lower year-round levels of pollution.