The air in these Bengaluru roads is often as bad as in Delhi or Beijing!

Weeklong monitoring along seven major Bengaluru roads, including Hosur Road, Outer Ring Road and MG Road during peak traffic hours showed alarmingly poor air quality levels everyday! Cardiologists advise walkers, cyclists to stay away from busy stretches.

Bengaluru’s air quality crisis, unlike that in the cities of the north, is a silent one; most online ambient stations which provide information to the public paint a fairly clean picture of the city’s air, though most of its citizens feel otherwise.

In an effort to understand the palpable pollution levels in the air we breathe, in comparison to the ambient data being generated by the KSPCB, Co Media Lab and Climate Trends carried out a 7-day air quality monitoring exercise with the help of a low-cost monitor used to measure personalised exposure levels.

The activity was spread over a period of seven days, in the period from February 5th to 15th. The monitor was installed in an auto equipped with a GPS tracker to locate various junctions and sensitive areas at which pollution spikes have taken place. The exercise covered seven select arterial roads during the peaks hours, both in the morning as well as the evening to understand the impact of traffic on pollution levels.

 

The auto driver, Sreedhar Gowda says, “It’s extremely hard to sit inside an auto during the peak hours; diesel smoke from the BMTC buses, the two stroke autos is unbearable, I had to have my mask on, on all days and the slow-moving traffic would just leave me covered in smoke and make my eyes water.”

Where the air is foul

The seven arterial routes had a common starting point—Jayanagar/Banashankari touching Marathahalli, Silk Board, Electronic City, White Field, Uttarahalli, MG Road and Mekhri Circle.

Some of the highest instant values for Particulate Matter 2.5 and 10 were noted in the following locations:

Location

PM2.5 Levels

PM10 Levels

Near Angadi Silks, Marenahalli Road

193.5

858.5

ICON Central Labs, Hosur Road,

193

876

Nallurhalli, Whitefield,

166

513.5

Naidu Layout, Chikkalasandra,

149

502

Arehalli Gate Bus Stop

113

352.5

Jal Bhavan Bangalore

144.5

368

MG Road

116.5

355.5

Sri Chaitanya School

156

373.67

New Tharagupet

200.67

340.33

Kengeri Road, Aravalli, 3rd Main Rd

195

315.5

How bad is the air, really?

The safety limits for particulate pollutants are available for 24 hours and annual averages only, therefore, one cannot directly say how unsafe real time values are in comparison to the regulatory norms. However, the averages observed over the four-hour auto rides carried out in two parts have consistently generated averages above 200 micrograms per cubic meter, which indicates that very poor air quality levels prevail for several hours every day owing to traffic congestion.

Dr.Rahul Patil, Cardiologist at Jayadeva Hospital, says that there is a high incidence of heart attacks among auto and cab drivers in the city as they spend long hours in slow-moving traffic. Particulate pollution gets absorbed into the bloodstream within a few minutes and is responsible for blocking arteries. Bengalureans should become more aware of the rising pollution crisis and not walk and cycle on or near busy roads as the benefits might not outweigh the risks”.

Annual averages published by the State Pollution Control Board are based on online and offline monitoring data and it clearly indicates that levels of Particulate Matter 2.5, the smallest and the most harmful of all, have exceeded the annual limits in the last one year by 3% to 45%.

~~~

This press note was shared by Climate Trends, and published with minimal change, in the space Message Forward, meant for non-profit messages by individuals and organisations.

Comments:

  1. vishwas says:

    This is an awesome study and very timely. I hope such data can be made available on a continuing basis for the entire city. It would help if we can install these sensors on private cars or taxis and upload crowd-sourced data for various neighborhoods.

  2. Adithya Pradyumna says:

    Hi Aishwarya….great work! Hope people of Bangalore will rise up to the resolvable challenge of air pollution now. Wanted to ask, The readings are from the areas that were monitored as part of your survey. What might be the situation in other areas? Are you planning follow up surveys in residential areas of Bangalore? Some of these might also be equally polluted.

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