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Weekly Current Affairs: April week-1 - SAFAR

  • Category
    Environment
  • Published
    9th Apr, 2020

With a nationwide lockdown in place, over 90 cities, including Delhi, recorded minimal air pollution in the last few days, according to SAFAR.

Context

With a nationwide lockdown in place, over 90 cities, including Delhi, recorded minimal air pollution in the last few days, according to SAFAR.

About

  • The system of Air Quality Forecasting And Research (SAFAR) envisages a research-based management system where strategies of air pollution mitigation go hand in hand with the nation’s economic development to target a win-win scenario.
  • It provides real-time air quality index 24×7, followed with the advance forecast of 72 hours.
  • It measures the sun's UV-Index (UVI), Mercury and Black carbon in real time along with PM1 levels and weather parameters like PM10, PM2.5 and Sulfur Dioxide.
  • It also monitors the existence of harmful pollutants like Toluene, Benzene and Xylene.
  • The SAFAR system is developed by Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune, along with ESSO partner institutions namely India Meteorological Department (IMD) and National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF).

Key-highlights:

  • According to the Centre-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), the impact of the measures taken due to the coronavirus outbreak has resulted in a drop in PM2.5 (fine particulate pollutant) by 30 percent in Delhi and by 15 percent in Ahmedabad and Pune.

           

Particulate Matter (PM): 

  • Particulate Matter (PM) is mainly a mixture of both organic and inorganic particles, such as smoke, dust, soot and others. These particles differ in size and composition. 
    • PM 2.5: PM2.5 is 2.5 micrometres in diameter or much more smaller. These particles are lighter and go much deeper into the human body than PM 10, which can cause greater damage to health. 
    • PM 10: PM10 are less than 10 micrometres in diameter. It irritates human airways, especially among asthmatics and the elderly. They make your eyes burn and throat dry. 

 

  • The level of Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) pollution, which can increase the risk of respiratory conditions, has also reduced.
  • NOx pollution is mainly caused due to a high motor vehicle traffic. In Pune, NOx pollution has reduced by 43 per cent, in Mumbai, by 38 per cent and in Ahmedabad, by 50 per cent.
  • In March, pollution is in the "moderate" category (Air Quality Index range: 100-200) while presently, it is in the "satisfactory" (AQI 50-100) or "good" (AQI 0-50) category.

     

Air quality index (AQI): 

  • AQI is a numerical scale used for reporting air quality with regard to human health and the environment on daily basis.
  • The index is used to convey to the public an estimate of air pollution levels. 
  • An AQI is considered good between 0-50, considered ‘satisfactory’ between 51-100, 100-200 ‘moderate’, 201-300 ‘poor’, 301-400 ‘very poor’ and 401-500 ‘severe’. 
  • Under the "good" category, pollution is considered to be at the lowest and the air is believed to be the healthiest to breathe.
  • According to the data of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the air quality in the national capital is presently in the "good" category. In Kanpur, which has high pollution levels, it is in the "satisfactory" category.
  • Moreover, 92 other cities with CPCB monitoring centres have recorded minimal air pollution, with the air quality in the range of "good" to "satisfactory".
  • As many as 39 cities have recorded "good" air quality and 51 cities have recorded "satisfactory" air quality in the last few days, the CPCB data showed.
  • An AQI between 0-50 is considered good, 51-100 satisfactory, 101-200 moderate, 201-300 poor, 301-400 very poor and 401-500 severe.
  • Environmentalists believe that the reduced pollution levels should act as a wake-up call for the government.

These findings have been a wake-up call and now, the government should figure out a new normal. This situation has given us an opportunity, a chance to find a new sustainable life.

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