Kolkata‘s air worse than Delhi’s in Nov

KOLKATA: The city’s pollution count crossed the 400 mark on November 25, the highest level recorded since this , when the air quality index (AQI) had shot past the dangerous 500 mark. The city’s AQI reading was worse than Delhi’s —the world’s most polluted city— on at least nine days between November 7 and November 25.

Even a slight physical activity in such conditions could cause significant health impact or even death, warned experts. In fact, the death of a morning walker at KFR Ground in last Thursday reinforced the medical advisory to abstain from early morning exposure to polluted air.

“It is high time that a health emergency is issued. People are not aware how lethal this toxic air could be, they don’t realize that this foul air is often responsible for deaths or illnesses,” said environmentalist and auto-emission expert Somendra Mohan Ghosh. “Air pollution warnings and health advisories are issued so that people can protect themselves. But you would not find any measure suggested by the WBPCB,” Ghosh added.

AQI on any given day is the average count of the most prominent pollutants over the last 24 hours. In case of Kolkata, PM2.5 is the most prominent pollutant.

“This means that the city’s AQI represents the count of PM2.5, which is so tiny that it can travel into the lungs without any obstruction and lead to serious health consequences,” preventive care expert Debasish Basu told TOI on Monday.

Kolkata’s situation is far worse than Delhi because of higher proportion of diesel vehicles, no availability of clean fuel like CNG for public transport, few open spaces and fast reducing greenery, said Sudipta Bhattacharya of Saviours and Friends of Environment.
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