Bengaluru's toxic air a lab for dust-eating machines

Bengaluru's toxic air a lab for dust-eating machines

Harsha Prakash Gowda, an expert on the fine dust-eater project, demonstrates the working of the machine in Bengaluru. DH Photo/B H Shivakumar

While vehicular exhaust and construction activities were said to be the main causes of pollution in the city, fine dust particles, measuring less than 2.5 micrometres, have now turned out to be the latest threat.

With this, the city has become a laboratory for outdoor air filter companies to test their ‘Dust Eater’ machines.

Fitted with sensors and filters capable of detecting fine dust particles, these filter cubes suck the ambient air and retain fine dust and other harmful substances while releasing fresh air back into the environment.

Capable of functioning in all weather conditions, these dust eaters are designed to function according to the intensity of the fine dust particles, thus saving on energy as well, according to Harsha Prakash Gowda, an expert on fine dust eater project.

Experts have been studying the efficacy of the machines.

While Germany-based Mann Hummel had first installed a stationary filter cube dust eater in association with the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) in Cubbon Park and in Peenya Industrial Area, another firm in association with the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) set up one at the busy Hudson Circle.

The companies have also been approached by international schools and IT firms to set up these fine dust eaters on their premises.

“Fine dust is a problem in urban areas due to slow moving heavy traffic. According to KSPCB data, a whopping 62% of fine dust is due to road traffic and emission. Of the 62%, exhaust emission contributes only 30% and the rest comes from brake dust, tyre and asphalt abrasion. These are perhaps split-second action but trigger a lot of PM 2.5. Largely invisible, it gets easily absorbed into lungs and blood,” says Pradeep Randhawa, vice president and MD of Mann Hummell.

The firm’s dust eater machine is on trial at an international school in Delhi where air flow in the children’s play area is being purified.

Officials have also been interacting with the state government and transport department for installation of these machines in outdoor ambiance. The dust eater has also been designed to absorb nitrogen dioxide NO2. 

Dr Rahul S Patil, consultant cardiologist and head of the Project Premature Coronary Artery Disease (PCAD) at Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research said, “Air pollution is one of the causes for heart attacks at the young age. Prolonged exposure to vehicle emission impacts the heart according to our study. In those who are exposed to pollution like traffic police and drivers, the blood is hyper viscous and unable to flow freely through arteries. Such patients reveal abnormal fluctuation in their blood pressure and heart rate causing heart attacks.”