In December, whenever Sakshi Tawde used to go out, she started having difficulty in breathing along with cough. By the end of January, the situation became such that even when she stayed inside her house in Chembur, her cough increased. After this he had to be admitted to the hospital and the doctor said that he had asthma.
Last month, 12-year-old Sakshi quit her school’s sub-junior track team of which she was the captain. Sakshi told BLiTZ, “It is very disappointing that young players are getting such ailments.”
However, they will not take solace from the fact that since December, respiratory diseases have increased in Mumbai among people of different age groups, different lifestyles and different income groups.
Harpreet Singh Grover, an angel investor in over two dozen startups, said, “My wife and I both run. Due to the poor air quality, I stopped running. Although my wife continued to run, but after a week she too had to stop the running regimen as her throat was sore.
Such experiences also indicate why there has been a 30 per cent increase in people going to hospitals for respiratory ailments. More than one-fourth of the patients are in ICU due to such ailments. The doctor at Tawde, who did not wish to be named, said that hospitals in Chembur, Mazagon, Mulund and Bandra Kurla Complex have seen a spurt in respiratory problems.
Such a situation has coincided with the unprecedented deterioration of Mumbai’s air quality. With the onset of unusually cold winters, Mumbaikars started wearing warm clothes and the city has been engulfed in smog and dust for almost four months now. Between 2019 and 2022, the average number of days with ‘poor’ and ‘very poor’ AQI (air quality index) in Mumbai was 28.
The air quality index in the city remained in the ‘poor’ to ‘severe’ category for more than 90 per cent days since January this year, which is 150 per cent higher than last year.
IQAir, a Swiss air tracking index that measures air quality, has named Mumbai and the Mumbai Metropolitan Region as the most polluted urban centers in India and the National Capital Region of Delhi as the second most polluted city in the world for the week between January 29 and February 8. .
Mumbai’s air quality index remained in the ‘poor’ and ‘very poor’ category for nearly 20 days between February 15 and March 15, despite a reduction in winters, according to AccuEd.in. Anju Goyal, research fellow in TERI’s Department of Earth Sciences and Climate Change, said, “Due to La Nina, air transfer between sea and land that used to occur every two to three days has slowed down to seven to 10 days this winter.” Started happening in the cycle of.
La Nina cools ocean surfaces and causes them to absorb more heat from the atmosphere. The cooling effect slows down the reverse movement of air flow between land and sea, due to which pollutants are trapped in the form of haze in the lower part of the atmosphere for a long time.
Due to such climatic factors, there has been a steady increase in the air pollution of Mumbai. Raghu Murtugude, professor emeritus of the University of Maryland and visiting faculty at IIT-Bombay, said that in 2010 the air pollutant, PM 2.5, in Mumbai was at a level of around 70, which was the peak level as well as the average level, because The difference was negligible. PM 2.5 levels averaged over 100 this winter and peaked at 150, more than double that of 2010.
The construction boom across the city has further complicated the issue of these pollutants. Infrastructure projects such as the Mumbai Trans Harbor Link, Mumbai Metro and Navi Mumbai International Airport as well as real estate construction projects have increased dust levels.
Tawde’s house is surrounded by several such construction sites and so is his school.
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