Traffic is Mumbai’s biggest air polluter

A recent study of the Environment Pollution Research Center in Mumbai has found that Carbon mono-oxide gas levels continue to rise in the atmosphere, pushing the city towards an environmental catastrophe due to traffic exhaust. In Mumbai, the CST, Parel and Chembur areas are said to be at highest risk.

In Chembur, due to the mono rail project, the roads have become narrow and congested, leading to bigger and bigger traffic jams, which in turn cause pollution levels to rise. Even more alarming, according to the Chennai-based Environmental Health Rights Organisation of India, the level of particulate matter around the neighboring Deonar garbage dump, the biggest in the city, is 2,000 micro-grams per cubic meter. The maximum limit should be 150 micro-grams!

“Mumbai is an island city,” says Anand Pendharkar, the Founder and President of Sprouts Environment Trust, which is very active in the city. “The only advantage is the sea breeze which takes away a lot of pollution every day.”

However, he is very critical of the public habit of people spitting everywhere. “This I show germs are spreading”, he goes on. “There are three types of pollution in this city, chemical, physical and biological. Cholera and typhoid are air-borne diseases that people are aware of this also. Then there is air pollution, which is chemical, caused by traffic exhaust. Therefore, we tell people to look for a job, which is closer to home, so that their daily commute should reduce automatically. Then there is the problem of tree cover, which is very important to control the air pollution. Trees are being cut down for the development of various projects.

According to Ranjan Raut (34), a resident of Chembur, “Due to air pollution, the general health problems like bronchitis, asthma problem are increasing day by day. Chemical industries at Chembur are a big problem, resulting in the rise in air pollution. The Environment Pollution Research Center claims that 10% of the population in Chembur is suffering from bronchitis and respiratory distress.”

Air pollution contains mainly carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide, which is generated because of the burning of fuel. Many other gases are produced in the process of burning petroleum or kerosene to produce sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. In the case of the pollution generating in Mumbai the amount of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide pushed into the atmosphere is very high. Along with this factor, which contributes towards air pollution, soil dust, garbage particles, water vapor and toxic gases complete the mix, making Mumbai the fifth most polluted mega-city in the world, according to the World Health Organisation.

Burning of garbage is another very big problem in Mumbai and contributes to rise in air pollution. Plastics and rubber waste from the garages everywhere are being burnt and black smoke soot is the result. The rising number of middle-class populations helps to improve the economic level. However, this also leads to growing demands. What we do not understand is that increase in demands leads to the environment being more polluted because people are leaving bigger and bigger carbon footprints.

One of the most important reasons behind air pollution is the rising number of vehicles. In February 2016, the vehicle population has grown marginally and reported wholesales of over 2,30,000 units. Statistics show that Mumbai has car density of 430/km whereas Delhi has 93/km.