KOCHI: In the wake of the smog in Delhi, residents of major cities including Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode and other towns wonder whether the quality of air they breathe is OK. The State Pollution Control Board (PCB) is monitoring the ambient air quality at 30 stations under the National Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Programme (NAMP) and the State Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Programme (SAMP).
As per the PCB’s Water and Air Quality Directory – 2015, a comprehensive air quality data for the 2009 – 2015 period, the Respirable Suspended Particulate Matter (RSPM) values exceeded the permissible level by many times at eight stations in 2014 and two stations in 2015. The RSPM values crossed the maximum limit of 60 microgram per cubic metre at Kannur and Nagampadam stations in 2015 while the lowest RSPM was recorded in Thodupuzha in 2014 and Makkankunnu in Pathanamthitta in 2015.
However, the annual average concentrations of Sulphur Dioxide and Oxides of Nitrogen were never found exceeding the limit. The annual average RSPM in 2015 was the lowest in Makkanakunnu in Pathanamthitta (24 microgram per cubic metre) followed by Irumpanam (25) and Thodupuzha (29). The RSPM value was the highest in Kannur (63) followed by Nagampadam (60) and Vadavathur (60).
Interestingly, the 2015 data shows that the RSPM level was within the permissible level in fast growing Kochi city despite the round-the-clock construction activities including Metro Rail works. Though the RSPM showed an increasing trend during the past three years, it showed a decreasing trend in all the six stations in Ernakulam in 2015. However, RSPM was alarmingly high in 2012, 2013 and 2014 at various stations. Since weather patterns influence the data, PCB authorities have proposed to tighten the monitoring.
The 2009 – 2015 trend analysis data from the four monitoring stations in Thiruvananthapuram indicates that RSPM was well within the limit during the period. The other districts with healthy RSPM concentration are Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha, Idukki, Palakkad, Kozhikode, Wayanad and Kasargod. Meanwhile, when compared to most of the other states, Kerala has much safer air quality with better forest cover, according to a recent national ranking....