'Bengaluru's air today is what was Delhi's almost 20 years ago'

Vehicles, road dust, construction, industries among major polluters

'Bengaluru's air today is what was Delhi's almost 20 years ago'

Bengaluru’s air pollution today is what was Delhi’s 20 years ago, according to Anumita Roychowdhury, Executive Director, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).

Official ambient air quality monitoring has already shown 57 per cent increase in particulate matter in just four years (2010-2014) and 23 per cent in one year (2013-14- 2014-15).

Therefore, in more than 85 per cent of monitoring locations, the levels have exceeded the limits, she said at a dialogue on ‘Air Quality and Transportation Challenge: An Agenda for Action’ organised by the CSE here in the Bengaluru on Friday.

Apart from ambient air quality monitoring, there is now a need to assess exposure air quality. Exposure air quality is what people actually breathe on the roadside and in their neighbourhoods near drains or when garbage or other pollutants or matter is burnt.

Air monitoring

Exposure air monitoring conducted by the CSE in some of Bengaluru’s prime locations such as Peenya, Victoria and Manipal hospitals three days ago showed that every day citizens breathe 3-12 times higher pollutants than what is recorded at ambient level, she said. Ambient air quality is checked 10 feet higher, while exposure level is the actual breathing level, she added.

The government should start monitoring exposure air quality as it will give accurate data and ring the alarm bells faster. Measuring exposure air quality is cheaper compared to ambient air as the equipment are handy and cheaper, Roychowdhury said.

B Nagappa, Scientific Officer, Karnataka State Pollution Control Board, said Bengaluru’s pollution as well as vehicle population were growing alarmingly.

Respirable Suspended Particulate Matter (RSPM) levels have gone up by 20 per cent, vehicle population 257 per cent and population 258 per cent, he added.

RSPM levels increased drastically in 2014-15 in Peenya residential and industrial areas, Yeshwantpur, Nimhans and Banaswadi, Kazisumanahalli, Victoria Hospital and AMCO Batteries on Mysuru Road because of increased construction activities and vehicles.

PM10, NOx (nitrous oxide) and SO2 (sulphur dioxide) levels are higher than the desired limits because of sudden and unplanned growth.  Transport, road dust, domestic sector, diesel generator sets, hotels, industries and construction form Bengaluru’s total emission load.

Road dust 20pc

The transport sector contributes 42 per cent particulate matter (PM) 10, 146.4 per cent NOx and 15.8 per cent SO2. Industries contribute 14, 7.9 and 56.2 per cent respectively.

Road dust contributes 20 per cent PM10 and the construction industry 14 per cent PM10. Recently added factors are silt and dust which contribute 20 per cent to the City’s pollution levels, Nagappa said. 

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