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calibre: Deputy Scientific Officer Kavitha at the laboratory in KSPCB building in Mysore . dh photo  by prashant h gThe alarming pollution levels both in atmospheric air and water sources, that has a drastic impact on the ecosystem has made the whole world pull up their socks to chalk out various programmes to tackle environmental pollution.

But Mysoreans can heave a sigh of relief, rather comfortably, as the pollution levels in the city are well below the ‘alarming’ levels, when compared to its counterparts in the capital city and other regions of the state. This is not just a random opinion drawn on something as vague as less density of vehicles in city, but a well researched report from the
Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB), which gets published periodically.

Speaking to City Herald, Scientific Officer of KSPCB Ramegowda said Mysore, which is already a favourite destination for most, is also a safe place to live in, as the ambient air quality is rather safe and there is no reason to hit the panic button yet. The ambient air quality monitored at K R Circle and Industrial Suburb in Hebbal is a proof of this claim, which is being submitted to the Central Pollution Control Board under National Air Monitoring Programme.

They have also been publishing the results of average readings of the ambient air quality monitored in city, for the benefit of the public.

The public too, who take a look at the readings in the leading newspapers wonder how the process is done and the kind of instruments that are being used for the same by the KSPCB staff to arrive at a reading. City Herald brings out details of some of the equipment being used for the process and find out the pollution levels in air and water.
The equipment being used for monitoring the ambient air quality is the Respirable Dust Sampler, which has been installed at two places. One atop the KSRTC building, situated at the heart of the city, where there is a high level of pollution due to high density of vehicular traffic and the other opposite the KSPCB building, which is surrounded by industries.

This equipment is used to monitor the parameters of sulphur-di-oxide, oxides of nitrogen, Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM) and Respirable Suspended Particulate Matter (RSPM) in the air. The instrument is fixed with a stabiliser, gas box, blower and others. A glass fibre filter paper is affixed to the instrument to check the pollution content in air. The machine sucks in the air and the SPM and RSPM is collected in the filter paper and a cup, which is then weighed and calculated every hour for eight hours, following which the average calculated. Spectro Photometer, Balance and Cellulose Thimbles are used for the purpose and the whole procedure is as per the guidelines of the American Public Health Association (APHA), says Ramegowda.

The Bio-Assay section here performs the preliminary test for water pollutants in water sources such as rivers, lake industrial effluents etc. Here 10 fish are let in a tank of the collected water and observed for 96 hours to check their rate of survival. The longer the fish lives, the less the pollutant level in the water. While, some industrial effluents kill the fish, then the water is diluted with treated water and check the rate of survival and determine the toxicity of water, which is then subjected to an array of tests in the Water Effluent Treatment Plant.

Explaining the equipment Deputy Scientific Officer Kavitha said the section has DH meter to check the pH level, Chemical Oxygen Demand (CoD), Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BoD), Turbidity Meter to check the turbidity and sulphate level. A higher electrical conductivity indicates a higher pollutant level. Suspended Solid Chamber, Kjehladal Nitrogen machine to find out the nitrate content, DS machine to find out the dissolvents, Muffle furnace, Fume Hood where acid is used and the chamber is well protected -- so that the fumes do not harm those working the lab, and a Hot plate completes the section.

The river, lake and treated water are subjected to bacteriology tests and coliform tests and facilitate the growth of coliform. This enables to check the presence of coliform bacteria in the water bodies and determine whether the water is fit for drinking.

The building also houses some of the state-of-the-art machinery in the Instrument Section where the presence of metals is detected in the samples. Atomic Absorption Spectrometer and Photometer detects the metal content which may have drastic impact on the health.

The pesticide content is traced through Gas chromatograph, which determines the presence of chemicals through the retention time. The Surface Water section has Ion Analyser to check PH, Flouride, Nitrate and other contents.Millipore the equipment used to check soil content and Microwave Digestion system, Flame photometer to find Sodium and Potassium levels.

The Annual Average result for air at KSRTC building, K R Circle:

The standard levels of Sulphur dioxide is 60 µ/gm m3, Nitrogen-di-oxide 60 gms, Suspended Particulate Matter 140 gm and RSPM 60 gms. The monitored levels are 11gms, 25.4, 94 and 47 gms respectively.

At KSPCB Building, Hebbal: Standards - Sulphur di-oxide 80, NO2 80, SPM 360 and RSPM 120.The monitored levels are 10.6 gms, 25.4 gms, 86 gms and 45 gms.

Ambient air quality      01-04-2011 to 30-04-2011

Station details                           SO2              NO2             SPM           RSPM
KSRTC Building (Standards)              80                  80               200               100
K R Circle                                                  11.3               21.6           102                  49
KSPCB Building  (standards)            120             120              500             150
Hebbal Indl area                                 10.8               21.1             100                 48 

Note: All parameters are expressed in µg/m3
Monitored results (24 hours average)

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