Air pollution levels in Bengaluru reduced by 28% during the lockdown enforced over the coronavirus outbreak in India. The reduction was measured in terms of particulate matter PM 2.5 levels in a study by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA). It recorded air quality data from 26 monitoring devices set up in Bengaluru.
Data recorded from February 8 to March 23 (before lockdown) was compared with data recorded from March 25 to May 8 (during lockdown). Most devices spread across the city recorded a drop of over 20% during the lockdown. The device stationed at Bellandur Lake recorded a drop of 75% in this period. The lowest drop (14%) was observed near Halasuru hospital.
The Healthy Air Coalition, an organisation with experts from health and environment sectors, was also part of the study by CREA.
â€œThe Healthy Air Coalition has been monitoring local air quality using a network of monitors across the city for over 12 months. By chance, we have been able to assess the impacts of lockdown on air quality and it appears that pollution from PM2.5 has been cut by more than a quarter on average. In some places air quality has actually met WHO safe levels, possibly for the first time in two decades," Aishwarya Sudhir, Coordinator of the Healthy Air Coalition said.
PM2.5 are fine particles measuring 2.5 micrometres that can penetrate deep into the lungs. Health experts warn of long term damage from inhaling PM 2.5.
The organisation attributed Bengaluru's poor air quality before COVID-19 to pollution from traffic, solid waste burning, residential cooking and heating, and dust from road works and construction.
â€œA significant improvement in air quality in Bangalore during the lockdown clearly indicates the significant contribution of traffic to air pollution. Seeing a drop in levels more so in areas which are known to be the tech-corridors of the city during a period of work-from- home (WFH) also points in this favour. This reiterates the need for us to take traffic regulation more seriously and implement strategies to control vehicular emission in our city to help improve the air quality," Dr KR Bharath Kumar Reddy, Pediatric Pulmonologist, Director, Shishuka Children's Hospital, Bengaluru said.