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Chennai smog: Air quality no better on Friday; Sri Lanka, too, begins coughing

Vinson Kurian November 8 | Updated on November 08, 2019 Published on November 08, 2019

A traffic policeman wearing a mask, manages traffic in highly polluted conditions on Anna Salai in Chennai, on Thursday. Pollution levels in the city were no better on Friday either. Photo: R. Ragu / The Hindu   -  The Hindu

While the AQI in Manali is very poor (319), it is poor in Velachery, Alandur and Manali Village

The nightmare for Chennai continues, with scorecard splattered red. Yes, Manali, with a reading of 319, reported a Very Poor air quality index of PM2.5 (primary pollutant being particulate matter) at 6 am this Friday. This is as according to the Air Quality Index as measured by the Central Control Room for Air Quality Management, Central Pollution Control Board.

 

Following not too far behind is Velachery with 290 (Poor); Alandur Bus Depot with 285 (Poor); and Manali Village with 217 (Poor): So one Very Poor and three Poor!

 

Clearly not what Chennaiites would have liked to wake up and breathe in!

Also read: Chennai weather: Citizens worry over impact of pollution, smog, poor air quality on health

Winds not picking up pace

The wind direction is westerly to north-westerly (blowing from the west and the north-west) as the pull power of the severe cyclone Bulbul farther away over the East-Central Bay of Bengal becomes apparent.

But the winds speeds are hopelessly slow, bordering on the still at 7.15 am, as the live weather tracker of the Chennai Met Office of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) shows us.

 

The humidity level is 100 per cent, with temperature and dew point temperature reading at 27.2 degrees Celsius and 26.9 per cent, respectively, under a partly clouded sky, which rules out the scope for any rain.

It may be recalled here that the Directorate General of Health Services of the National Capital Territory of New Delhi has issued a health advisory to the public for air protection from the hazardous pollution there.

 

Delhi health advisory

Pollution in the southern metropolis of Chennai may not have reached the severe levels that were seen in Delhi recently, but a health advisory issued there is instructive.

The severe pollution, the advisory said, may result in morbidity among exposed people. It harms and may cause respiratory illnesses in healthy people after prolonged exposure, and can lead to pronounced respiratory or other serious illnesses in the vulnerable population even after short exposure.

 

Therefore, the general public is advised to avoid outdoor physical activities, especially during morning and late evening hours.

Vulnerable sections of the population are advised to strictly avoid outdoor physical activities and remain indoors and keep activity levels low to protect their health from pollution.

People facing prolonged exposure, such as traffic policemen, traffic volunteers, rickshaw pullers, autorickshaw drivers, and roadside vendors should take extra precautions.

So, avoid outdoor physical activities, remain indoors and keep activity levels low in the affected areas. That's the golden rule that the public in these areas should observe, especially if the pollution worsens.

Sri Lanka also hit?

Interestingly, the island nation of Sri Lanka, across the Gulf of Mannar, to India's immediate South, issued an alert on Wednesday over unusually high air pollution and asked people with respiratory ailments to exercise caution, according to a report in The Hindu.

They suspect that the winds blowing from the North west of Sri Lanka possibly carried pollutants from India. Based on the readings of air quality monitored in Colombo on Wednesday, it was found that the air quality index had shot up to 150.

“The 24-hour average was also over 100, which is uncharacteristically high,” the report quoted Sarath Padmasiri, a senior scientist with the National Building Research Organisation (NBRO), the country’s chief air quality monitoring agency, as saying. The standard PM 2.5 reading in Sri Lanka is around 50, according to officials.

Commenting on the reasons, Padmasiri said scientists at the NBRO had been monitoring data put out by the World Meteorological Organisation. From the data and visuals, it appears that the winds blowing from India towards Sri Lanka are carrying the particles, he told The Hindu. Many Sri Lankans tweeted about the haze and dust in their localities on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Back home, bloggers in Chennai and Twitterati continued to air their concerns over the poor air quality:

https://twitter.com/Thomas99375819/status/1192623707237187584?s=20

Published on November 08, 2019
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