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Why Low Air Quality Index in Mumbai Doesn't Always Mean Good Air in Mumbai!

Updated: Apr 15

Mumbai's AQI

Mumbai, the city of dreams, often grapples with another reality - air pollution. We all breathe a sigh of relief when the Air Quality Index (AQI) dips into the "low" category. But is this a cause for celebration? In the context of Mumbai, the answer is not so simple.

Why Low AQI in Mumbai Doesn't Guarantee Good Air quality

While an AQI reading in the "low" category indicates some improvement, it's important to understand the benchmarks. The "low" category itself can encompass a range of values, and even the lower end of that range might still pose health risks, especially for vulnerable populations like children, the elderly, and those with respiratory problems.

Mumbai's bad AQI's Days
Mumbai's bad AQI's Days

Here's what we need to consider-

  • Specific Pollutants: AQI is a broad measure that takes various pollutants into account. Even if the overall AQI is low, certain pollutants like PM2.5 (fine particulate matter) might still be at concerning levels.

  • Cumulative Impact: Air pollution has a cumulative effect on health. Even low levels of pollution over a prolonged period can lead to respiratory issues and other health problems.

  • Mumbai's Background Pollution: Mumbai has a significant background level of air pollution due to factors like traffic congestion and industrial emissions. This baseline level can push even a slight improvement into the "low" AQI category, but the air quality might not be truly healthy. What are the eminent causes here -

  • Vehicular Emissions: Mumbai's congested streets are choked with vehicles, contributing significantly to air pollution. The unchecked growth of automobiles, especially diesel-powered vehicles, emits harmful pollutants like nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM), exacerbating air quality issues.

  • Industrial Activities: As a major industrial hub, Mumbai hosts a plethora of manufacturing units and factories. While these industries drive economic growth, they also release pollutants such as sulfur dioxide (SO2) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air, further degrading air quality.

  • Construction and Infrastructure Projects: The city's ever-expanding skyline is a testament to its rapid urbanization. However, construction activities generate dust and emissions, contributing to air pollution. Moreover, inadequate waste management practices exacerbate the problem, releasing methane and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

  • Waste Burning: Open burning of waste, including plastic and organic materials, is a common practice in Mumbai's slums and outskirts. This releases toxic fumes and particulates, adding to the pollution burden and posing serious health risks to nearby residents.

  • Geographic Factors: Mumbai's geographical location, bordered by the Arabian Sea and flanked by hills, exacerbates pollution levels by trapping pollutants within the city. Weather conditions such as temperature inversions further compound the problem by preventing pollutants from dispersing.

So, what can we do?

Solutions to improve AQI
Solutions to improve AQI

  • Monitor Specific Pollutants: Track individual pollutants like PM2.5, not just AQI readings.

  • Reduce Personal Exposure: Limit outdoor activity on high-pollution days, use air purifiers at home, and wear masks when needed.

  • Advocate for Change: Support policies for cleaner air, such as stricter emission regulations and better public transport.

  • Promote Sustainable Transportation: Encourage EV adoption, improve public transit, and implement congestion pricing.

  • Strengthen Industrial Regulations: Enforce stricter emission norms, promote cleaner production, and incentivize green technologies.

  • Implement Green Building Practices: Mandate green building standards, promote energy efficiency, and incorporate green spaces.

  • Enhance Waste Management: Segregate waste, promote recycling and composting, and establish efficient disposal systems.

  • Foster Community Engagement: Educate communities about pollution, empower advocacy, and encourage collaboration. Addressing Mumbai's Low AQI pollution crisis requires concerted efforts from all stakeholders, including government bodies, industries, communities, and individuals. By understanding the root causes of pollution and implementing targeted interventions, we can pave the way towards a cleaner, healthier, and more sustainable future for Mumbai .Together, let's clear the air and build a city where future generations can thrive.

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