Pollution level touches a low during Deepavali

Pollution level touches a low during Deepavali

No big bangThe pollution level in the last three days was much lower compared to the previous year, according to the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board.

In essence, the quantity of crackers burst this year was significantly low.

The board came to this conclusion after comparing the pollution level during the festival with that of normal days in the two years. In 2008, the quantity of sulphur dioxide (SO2) found in SG Halli (residential locality in Basaveshwarnagar) during celebrations was 118 per cent more than in any normal day that year.

However, this year the sulphur dioxide content was only 64.94 per cent more than in any normal day. In short, the pollution level decreased by 54 per cent this year.

Sulphur and potassium nitrate are the major components used in crackers. Sulphur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen are released into the environment in large quantity when crackers are burst. The emission of these chemicals can lead serious respiratory problems in humans.

Monitoring mechanism

The board has set up an ambient air quality monitoring system at the City railway station (mixed urban area) and SG Halli. The reading at the City railway station is of vehicular pollution rather than that caused by crackers.

The board measured levels of sulphur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, carbon monoxide and respirable suspended particulate matter (RSPM) on October 17, 18 and 19.

The average reading of pollution measured on October 14, 15 and 16 is considered as pollution level in normal days of the year.

The average level of oxides of nitrogen recorded at SG Halli in 2008 was 43.0 micrograms per metre cube, which was 91.9 per cent more than the readings of the normal day (22.4 micrograms per metre cube). Whereas during Deepavali this year, the quantity of oxides of nitrogen was only 37.6 micrograms per metre cube, which is only 7.7 pc more than the normal day reading of 34.9 micrograms per metre cube.

However, the value of RSPM has increased slightly. In 2008 the average reading of RSPM was 138 micrograms per metre cube as against the normal day reading of 73.0 micrograms per metre cube of that year. The festival-day readings were 89 pc more than the normal day readings. This year the RSPM value was 94.63 micrograms per metre cube during celebrations, which was 107.97 pc more than the normal day reading of 45.5 micrograms per metre cube.

KSPCB Chairman A S Sadashivaiah attributes the dip in pollution levels in the City to floods in north Karnataka and the increasing awareness about pollution caused by crackers. Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa had appealed to the public to make the festival a low-key affair and not to harm the environment. “The board had also conducted awareness campaigns on the ill-effects of crackers involving many schools. I feel our efforts have yielded good results,” he said.