Healthy Energy Initiative (India) and Coastal Resource Centre collected air samples from 20 locations across the city, including Tiruvottiyur, Athipattu, Kattukuppam, Parry’s Corner, Velachery, T Nagar, Tirusulam and Vysarpadi in February-March this year, said the report “Unfit To Breathe 2021”.
The samples were taken using pre-weighted teflon filters fitted to a low volume air sampler and analysed for PM2.5 and heavy metals. The samples were analysed in Chester LabNet in Oregon, USA.
The report said air quality in Chennai in February-March 2021 was consistently poor. “Seventeen of the 20 air samples substantially exceeded the 24-hour NAAQS for PM2.5 of 60 µg/m3 by 1.1 to 3.8 times,” it said, adding that samples collected from Kuruvimedu, Nochikuppam, and Kattupalli Kuppam did not exceed the 24-hour NAAQS for PM2.5 while Tirusulam (228.6µg/m3), Vyasarpadi (214.2µg/m3) and Parry’s Corner (175µg/m3) had the highest levels.
Dr Vishvaja Sambath of Healthy Energy Initiative (India) said the air samples revealed the presence of silica, manganese, and nickel beyond the annual average level of exposure. “Citizens living in areas where levels of silica are high are at risk of chronic lung problems and (in the worst case) irreversible fatal illnesses,” she tweeted.
The report urged the State government to include Chennai as one of the non-attainment cities in the National Clean Air Programme and initiate a time-bound clean air action plan. “Conduct health impact assessment studies to explore the health status of the individuals residing in the highly polluted areas to establish the impacts of pollution on human health and provide adequate accessible health infrastructure to address the issue,” it said, seeking a complete moratorium on expansion or setting up of new pollution units in North Chennai, Ennore region till the air quality is restored. It sought conduct of regular monitoring of industrial emissions and impose stringent regulations on the industries violating the emission norms. “Plan and implement the vehicular emission norms, establish pollution under control points and impose fines on the violators,” it added.