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

Vinson Kurian, Annapurani. V November 7 | Updated on November 08, 2019 Published on November 07, 2019

A flight takes off from Chennai Airport amidst smog on Thursday evening. Photo: S R Raghunathan   -  The Hindu

People advised to avoid outdoor activity; parts of Bengaluru, Hyderabad also report poor air quality levels

“When I got down from the train this morning at 8 am and was on my way to office, I saw fog near the Rajarathinam stadium in Egmore. It took me a while to realise it was smog. I am worried now if my 60-year-old father can continue his morning walks,” says a worried Venugopal Ravi, a business executive.

Adithya, an engineer who works in a Chennai-based software firm and travels from Ramapuram to Guindy every day, is equally worried. “I see haze the whole day, even though winter hasn’t started in Chennai yet. I have never before observed so much smog so late in the morning,” he says.

Regular commuters who travel to work every day to the Old Mahabalipuram Road, a hub for IT companies in Chennai, also feel that the air has been smoggy throughout this week.

No respite

Indeed, Chennai’s air has now been heavy with pollutants for the fourth day on the trot. In fact, the pollution had worsened towards the evening on Thursday with the Air Quality Index, which refers to the finer particles or particulate matter of less than 2.5 microns (PM2.5) in the atmosphere, as assessed by the Central Pollution Control Board, shooting up to 316 (Very Poor) at Manali, in the city, by 4 pm.

Not far behind were Alandur (282, Poor); Velachery (276, Poor) and Manali Village (216, Moderate) even as the winds turned a friendly east-north-easterly and picked up some speed (10 km/hr at 5 pm) under mostly cloudy skies.

Cyclone Bulbul in the Bay of Bengal is not helping. Not only did it take away the rains to waste them over the sea, by Thursday evening it was also sending a barrage of northerly winds, accelerating the winds already blowing from North India to the South along the East Coast.

The polluted air had also invaded into parts of Bengaluru (BTM Layout recording 318, Very Poor, by the evening), though the rest of the city was not affected as badly.

In Santhnagar, Hyderabad, the index touched a high of 232 (Poor) even as other areas of the metropolis reported moderate levels of pollution.

Health concerns

These high levels of pollution could cause respiratory illnesses in people with prolonged exposure. The effect may be pronounced in people with lung or heart diseases.

Sensitive Groups are advised to avoid all physical activity outdoors. Move activities indoors, or reschedule to a time when the air quality is better.

People with lung ailments such as asthma, children, older adults, and outdoor workers should reduce prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion.

Indications are that from tomorrow (Friday) onwards, the winds may prevail in a more favourable direction with cyclone Bulbul moving away to the North in the Bay of Bengal, dragging some strong westerly winds across the South Peninsula.

This should hopefully reduce the pollution over the region. But Chennaiites seem to have had enough, and cannot wait to see the morning haze lift for good, and disappear from sight.

“Lately, I have been prone to headaches because of the pollution and have been carrying eye drops everywhere to avoid irritation on my contact lenses. You can hardly see through the air in Ramapuram, let alone walk or drive,” says Almas Saba a final year engineering student.

Published on November 07, 2019
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