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Rise in levels of toxic particulate matter in the environment causing serious problems to Mumbaiites

Firecrackers and their smoke, which at times, can take weeks to dissipate, can cause severe damage to human lungs. A statistical analysis of air pollution in the state post-Diwali, carried out by the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) shows that the average values of respirable suspended particulate matter (RSPM) and Nitrogen oxide (NOx) concentrations have increased alarmingly in Mumbai this year.

Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM) is an umbrella term for all substances with harmful consequences that are less than 100 micrometers in diameter. RSPM levels, also called PM10, which refers to particles having a size between 0.5 to 10 microns which are more dangerous to health because they are much smaller than SPM, have also risen.

Recently, the city saw highest levels of NOx and RSPM which was 223 and 167 microgram per cubic meter (µg/m3) respectively. The ideal level of NOx and RSPM in environment should be 80 µg/m3 and 100 µg/m3. A rise of 179% and 67% in NOx and RSPM levels from standard levels in the environment can be toxic and debilitating for Mumbaiites.

Global Hospital has seen several cases of pulmonary disorder due to presence of toxic smog in the city. On the topic, Dr. Sushil Jain, Pulmonologist, Global Hospital says, “Breathing the air that contains particulate matter such as RSPM, NOx, SO2, and carbon monoxide can lead to swelling and thickening of the inside of a person’s airways resulting in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). We have seen a significant rise of respiratory disorder patients this season.” He added that people, who never had history of breathlessness, cough or wheezing may also start developing these because of the polluted environment blanketing the city.

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