Toxins in the air: Raipur's air dangerously polluted

Last Updated 04 April 2019, 17:01 IST

Levels of iron, zinc, lead, nickel and manganese were found several times higher at Raipur demonstrating that the city suffers an overall poor air quality, states the report released on Thursday for open discussion at State Institute of Health and Family Welfare (SIHFW).

Dr Prabir Chatterjee, Director of SHRC, Chhattisgarh said a study was conducted from December 2018 to January 2019 to understand the air pollution level of Raipur city. Five air samples were taken at residential buildings, office building and open balcony of a hospital, in Kalibadi, Amlidih, Urla, Birgaon and Tatibandh.

"All the samples were sent to Chester LabNet, Oregon, USA for testing the heavy metals present in the air," he said.

"There is a clear indication that emissions from iron and steel manufacturing facilities in Raipur and Bhilai are a predominant cause of poor air quality. The high levels of manganese pose serious risk to the neurobehavioral health of residents of both locations," states the report of Dr Mark Chernaik, staff scientist at Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW), US, who reviewed the air samples.

The report by Dr Mark says that levels of pollutants from Raipur were compared with the same in Wilmington, the largest and most populous city in Delaware, USA.

The researchers found that the levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in Raipur were 14.9 times higher than PM2.5 in Wilmington while levels of iron, zinc and manganese were 118.4, 924 and 92.4 times higher than the same in Wilmington.

"As matter of public health, especially to prevent impairment of neurobehavioral function caused by exposure to manganese in ambient air, authorities should urgently institute measures to abate air pollution emissions from iron and steel manufacturing facilities in Raipur," recommends, Dr Mark.

PM 2.5: The levels in all the five samples were above 211.7 to 411.7μg/m3 and were 3.5 and 6.8 times higher than the standards prescribed by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.

Manganese: Levels of manganese in all the samples exceed the US EPA Reference Concentration (0.05μg/m3) and the WHO annual health-based guidelines value of 0.15μg/m3. Manganese is a known neurotoxin.

Lead: Levels of lead in three of the five samples exceed the US EPA 3-month average for exposure of lead (0.15μg/m3). Lead is a known neurotoxin.

Nickel: Levels in all samples exceed the WHO annual health-based guidelines value of 0.0025, which is based on the risk of cancer associated with long-term exposure.

Silicon: Levels of Silicon were seen elevated in all the samples. It causes respiratory health effects if exposures are prolonged.

(Published 04 April 2019, 14:11 IST)

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