Pune’s Air Quality Is Dipping To Alarmingly Low Levels, Say Experts

Pollution - Construction Dust Levels
Image used for representation only.

Alarmingly, a recent report by a Swiss company recording world air quality- (AirVisual in collaboration with International NGO Greenpeace), revealed that Pune is the fourth most polluted city in Maharashtra, after Mumbai, Aurangabad and Nagpur.

The IQAir AirVisual 2018 World Air Quality Report highlights the levels of particulate matter (PM2.5) pollution in 2018.

Pune PM2.5 level in 2018 was 46.3 micrograms per cubic meter (mpcm) that rose from 37 mpcm in 2017, bring its air quality into ‘unhealthy for sensitive group’ category. The World Health Organization (WHO) prescribes the safe limits to be at 10 mpcm.

Out of the 20 most polluted cities in the world, 18 are in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Mumbai was the most polluted and also ranked 71st in the list of most polluted cities in the world in 2018.

The report listed eight other cities of the state in the air quality data with Thane taking the last spot with 38.6 PM2.5 level.

Pune is currently witnessing a lot of construction and excavation work being carried out at various spots in the city. The resultant dust pollution has now become a major concern for the citizens.

“Be it metro construction, building flyovers, putting gas lines or the ambitious bicycle plan, they have dug up roads using one excuse or the other!

How sensible is it to implement all the plans at one go and make the city look like a heaped up mess? Traffic snarls are increasing by the day adding to the pollutants in the air.

We can’t ignore people’s well-being in the name of development,” quips Shefali Kukarni, a Paud road resident.

The 2018 World Air Quality Report is based on the review, compilation and validation of data from tens of thousands of air quality monitoring stations around the world.

PM2.5 refers to particulate matter (ambient airborne particles) which measure up to 2.5 microns in size and has a range of chemical makeups and sources. PM2.5 is widely regarded as the pollutant with the most health impact of all commonly measured air pollutants. Due to its small size PM2.5 is able to penetrate deep into the human respiratory system and from there to the entire body, causing a wide range of short- and long-term health effects.

Common sources of particulate matter (PM) include combustion (from vehicle engines, industry, wood and coal burning), as well as through other pollutants reacting in the atmosphere.

“Random burning of waste hasn’t completely stopped in the city. Bonfires on open roads were a common site in winters. Now, people burn all kinds of waste including plastics, wood and leaves just to get rid of the dry waste. There are many more sustainable options to discard the waste, why create another epidemic to cure one?

“Vehicles aren’t reducing in numbers. PUC is a thing of the past for all vehicle owners, including government owned.

Industries in the city just add to the misery. In such situations, people have to breathe the toxic air and there is no option.

There are people with asthma,  dust allergies and other respiratory disorders who just cannot breathe easy today,” says Anand Rao, a confectionery owner who also feels that it is the combined efforts of the citizens and authorities that can help curb the rise in air pollution in the city.


Loveleen Kaur

Loveleen Kaur

She loves travelling, dogs, sarcasm, humour and anything that spells F O O D, in that order. A writer on a journey to make positive stories a morning ritual and give society what it needs the most - optimism !!

Reach her at loveleen@pune365.com or tweet @KaurKaur18
Loveleen Kaur