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Particle peril in city air

If you are breathing heavy, blame it on your hot wheels.

A recent survey carried out by the regional office of Jharkhand State Pollution Control Board (JSPCB) in the city and Adityapur has revealed alarming levels of respirable suspended particulate matter (RSPM) in ambient air. It has also held diesel-run vehicles and industrial units responsible for the health hazard.

For the second time since it began the annual air survey in 2001, the JSPCB used a special gadget the respirable dust sampler to measure pollutants less than 10 micrograms per cubic metre (g/m3).

The equipment was installed at Golmuri, Bistupur and Adityapur for a 24-hour test in shifts of eight hours each earlier this month.

The residential pocket of Golmuri recorded RSPM of 200.0g/m3, while the count in Bistupur an upscale residential-cum-commercial area hosting Tata Main Hospital, nursing homes and several educational institutions was 190g/m3.

The prescribed limit for RSPM in residential and commercial areas is 100g/m3.

Adityapur one of eastern Indias largest cluster of industrial units notched an RSPM reading of 180g/m3, also higher than the specified standard of 150g/m3.

According to health experts, RSPM enters lungs through the nasal tract and cause several diseases from coughing and asthma to migraine, cancer and cardiac ailments. People of all age groups are vulnerable, but newborns are most susceptible to diseases.

According to JSPCB regional officer R.N. Choudhary, diesel-run vehicles are main culprits because their unburned carbon raise the RSPM count.

Not too many industries have sprung up in Jamshedpur and Adityapur in the past few years. Besides, our strict monitoring have made the existing ones adhere to pollution norms. But, vehicles are purchased every day, he said.

East Singhbhum district transport officer George Kumar said in 2011-12, more than 6,500 commercial vehicles were registered. In the first six months of the current financial year (2012-13), that number has already crossed 6,000, he pointed out.

Environment experts say the rise in RSPM levels is worrying and calls for joint action by pollution control officials and district administration.

Director of city-based Institute of Environmental Management and Studies (IEMS) N.K. Nag pushed for stringent curbs on registration of commercial vehicles by the district transport office and also suggested strict monitoring of pollution papers.

District administrations and the regional office of JSPCB should work in tandem to conduct random pollution checks on all vehicles. The district transport office should exercise temporary curbs on registration of commercial vehicles running within city limits, Nag said.

Apart from RSPM, the survey also checked release of noxious gases into the ambient air. Oxides of sulphur and nitrogen are known to cause irritation in the eyes, besides leading to throat and lung complications.

Fortunately, the city painted a soothing picture in this respect. Sulphur and nitrogen dioxides were present in ambient air, but in quantities much less than specified standards.

The sulphur dioxide count was 45.50g/m3 in Golmuri, 50.00g/m3 in Bistupur and 40g/m3 in Adityapur. The level of nitrogen dioxide stood at 60g/m3 in Golmuri and 80g/m3 in Bistupur. Adityapur read 70g/m3. The prescribed limits for both the harmful gases is 80g/m3.


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