CHENNAI: While releasing a report named 'Unfit to Breathe' on severe air pollution in North Chennai, volunteers of Let Chennai Breathe Campaign urged the state government to stop further expansion of industries in the locality and devise an exclusive action plan to cut emissions.
"At 259.4 micrograms per cubic metre to 199.2 micrograms per cubic metre, PM 2.5 levels were highest in samples taken from residential buildings in Kodungaiyur (near the dumping yard) and Manali (Petrochem Industrial Estate). Such levels are categorised as 'Very Unhealthy' by the US Environmental Protection Agency which advises people with heart or lung disease, older adults and children should avoid all physical activity, " the report said.
It added that results from the other sampling sites, namely Thiruvottiyur, Chinna Mathur, Kasimedu, Kuruvimedu, Minjur, Seppakkam, Parrys Corner, Vyasarpadi, Athipattu, Burma Nagar and Kattukuppam had PM 2.5 levels ranging from 69.6 to 149.2 micrograms per cubic metre. The areas showed high levels of crystalline silica, coal ash, resuspended road dust and other particles.
Vishvaja Sambath of The Other Media, a member of the campaign and author of the report, said air quality in 13 locations in North Chennai were monitored for continuous 24 hours in September. "The government should regularly monitor air quality and release the data to the public. The government should also devise an exclusive plan for north Chennai to reduce air pollution. High content of manganese will affect the central nervous system and nickel will cause cancer, " she said.
Sajitha, a resident from Ennore said that due to emission from industries, residents are suffering from respiratory illness. "The government should not allow expansion of existing industries. Permissions to new industries should not be given, " she urged.
Mahalingam of Manali alleged that the officials are indifferent towards the pollution issue and they do not take action even though residents raise complaints about gas leaks.
The volunteers pointed to a report submitted by a joint experts committee to the National Green Tribunal in April and said residents of north Chennai faced high cancer and non-cancer risk, with the risks being higher among children than adults.