As per a release issued by Asar, an organisation working for environmental causes, high aerosol amounts include particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10) comprising sea salt, dust, sulphate, black and organic carbon
Representative image. Pic/Istock
Aerosol pollution in Maharashtra is likely to move to 'highly vulnerable' red zone from the current 'vulnerable' orange zone in 2023, which may lead to drop in visibility levels and pose a host of health problems for its citizens, a study revealed.
As per a release issued by Asar, an organisation working for environmental causes, high aerosol amounts include particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10) comprising sea salt, dust, sulphate, black and organic carbon.
If inhaled, these substances can be harmful to people's health, it said.
Aerosol optical depth (AOD) is the quantitative estimate of the aerosol present in the atmosphere and it can be used as a proxy measurement of PM2.5.
The study titled 'A deep insight into state-level aerosol pollution in India', conducted by Associate Professor Dr Abhijit Chatterjee and PhD scholar Monami Dutta from Bose Institute, Kolkata, provides an insight into aerosol pollution with the long-term (2005-2019) trend, source apportionment and future scenario (2023) for various states.
Maharashtra currently falls under the orange 'vulnerable' zone with AOD between 0.4 and 0.5. However, rising aerosol pollution is expected to push the AOD above 0.5, which is the red zone (highly vulnerable), Dr Chatterjee, the study's principal author said.
The AOD values range from 0 to 1.0, with 0 indicating a crystal clear sky and maximum visibility, while 1 signifies hazy conditions, the study stated.
AOD of less than 0.3 fall under the green zone (safe), 0.3 to 0.4 is blue zone (less vulnerable), 0.4 to 0.5 is orange (vulnerable) and above 0.5 is red zone (highly vulnerable), it said.
"Air pollution in Maharashtra has mostly been influenced by coal-based thermal power plants (TPP). Their capacity is increasing with the rise in demand for electricity. However, if the state continues to install TPPs as observed in the past, it would enter the highly vulnerable zone, which could result in an increase in morbidity rate, drop in life expectancy and a host of health issues for people of the state," Dr Chatterjee said.
Maharashtra can witness an AOD rise of about 7 per cent between 2019 and 2023, he said.
The study has identified thermal power plants, solid fuel burning and vehicular emissions as main sources of aerosol pollution in the state, he said.
Emissions from thermal power plants increased from 31 per cent to 39 per cent between 2005 and 2019), mainly due to the increase in capacity and dependence on coal-based power generation, the study stated.
Maharashtra needs to turn down the capacity of thermal power plants by 41 per cent (10 GW) to move to the blue zone, author of the study Monami Dutta said.
The state government should not only restrict sanctioning of new thermal power plants, but should also focus on reducing the current capacity by at least 10 GW, she said.
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