Pune features among the top 3 Indian cities on ‘liveability quotient’. Projects on transport, water supply and waste management lined up in 2018 are expected to push it up further, but the poor air quality remains a big concern Breathing trouble in vehicle-busy city

The quality of the air in the city has gone from bad to worse over the past few years. With sea of vehicles plying on roads, Puneites are breathing in polluted air at each traffic signal.

To move ahead, it will be crucial to reduce the air pollution. Along with appropriate traffic control, reducing the number of vehicles on road by improving the public transport system and banning vehicles that produce toxic fumes can help battle the bad air. The other simple measure is planting trees, say experts.

The gradual rise in air pollutants over the years, especially high concentration of particulate matter being detected in the city’s air, has set the alarm bells ringing. Particulate matter is a hazardous air pollutant that can travel deep into the respiratory tract and enter the lungs.

In 2018, it will be crucial to reduce the air pollution, say experts. “The deterioration in air quality is a matter of great public health concern, as it puts even healthy individuals at risk of adverse health effects. Indian Medical Association (IMA) has declared the condition as Public Health Emergency,” says senior medical expert K K Aggarwal, national president, IMA.

Gaseous and particulate matter pollutants cause air pollution. Gaseous air pollutants include carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, oxides of sulphur and nitrogen, and ozone. Particulate matter pollutants include all sources and composition of particles that are either 10 microns or less in mean aerodynamic diameter, called PM10 (particles less than 10 microns) or PM2.5 (particles less than 2.5 microns) or PM1 or even ultrafine particles (particles less than 100 nanometres in diameter).

“Both these types of pollutants have harmful effects, but on a relative basis, particulate matter air pollution has been shown to be a bigger culprit. And there has been a rise in this pollutant in Pune city,” says senior chest physician Sundeep Salvi, the director of Chest Research Foundation (CRF).

Particulate matter is produced by combustion or heating. Mechanical friction and breakdown of liquid particles also produce it.

Not just the lungs. Pollutants in the city’s air have significant bearing on people’s mental health as well. Recent studies have suggested that air pollution, especially particulate matter (PM) less than 2.5 microns, is associated with the risk of triggering depression and worsening symptoms among those already down with the trait.

Source : TOI

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