Guwahati gets first-of-its-kind real-time air quality data in NE

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Guwahati gets first-of-its-kind real-time air quality data in NE

Saumya Mishra | October 01, 2018 17:48 hrs

GUWAHATI: The Pollution Control Board of Assam (PCBA) recently inaugurated a continuous air quality monitoring station in Guwahati, the first-of-its-kind in the northeast.  

With the inauguration of the new continuous air quality monitoring station, the residents will now be able to monitor air quality data in real time in the city for the first time.

The continuous ambient air quality monitoring station was inaugurated by forest minister Parimal Suklabaidya at the Pollution Control Board of Assam’s headquarters in the city. Officials informed G Plus that the real-time data which will be generated will reflect on display boards in two different places in Guwahati. 

“The continuous ambient air quality monitoring station will measure PM 2.5 particles including eight other parameters on air quality. Through the station, data will be generated every second and the air quality according to the time of the day will be available to the people,” Gokul Bhuyan, senior environment engineer PCBA told G Plus.
 
He added residents will have access to the air quality data as it will be saved in the server digitally and city residents can search for the data as and when required for any particular time or day.    
    
Earlier, the pollution control board officials had only one monitoring station to measure PM 2.5 particles. However, they plan to inaugurate two more stations in the coming days, but it will not reflect continuous data and will only show the average data of 8 or 16 hours, said authorities.  

PM 2.5 are fine particulate matters suspended in the air measuring two and a half microns or less. Presence of high levels of PM 2.5 in the air reduces visibility and causes the air to appear hazy and can pose serious health-related risks among people including respiratory issues.

Currently there are six air quality monitoring stations in Guwahati and 22 stations all over the state which help in measuring different parameters of air quality.  

Experts working in the field pointed out that the key hurdle in lowering air pollution levels in the city was the lack of availability of proper data on air quality. 

“Before this, there was only one continuous monitoring station for PM 2.5 which is why people did not have access to data related to air quality index. The extent of pollution hence cannot be fully understood unless there are multiple meters set up in the city to measure PM 2.5 particles,” said an expert. 


Need participation from all stakeholders: Experts  

Experts working in this field are of the opinion that even though Guwahati’s pollution levels have not reached alarming levels yet, it is imperative to take measures to maintain a good air quality index especially keeping in mind the fragile ecology of the place.  
    
“We need to take continuous measures to keep air pollution in check. Since pollution affects every citizen, participation from all stakeholders is required for effective implementation of policies,” said DN Das, chief environmental engineer at Pollution Control Board of Assam.
  
According to a report by the Assam Science Technology & Environment Council (ASTEC), air quality monitoring station at Bamunimaidan revealed the presence of respirable suspended particulate matter (RSPM) and suspended particulate matter (SPM) well above the prescribed limit since 2008.


 The presence of sulphur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen was, however, within the permissible limits at all the monitoring stations.
 
The report goes on to say that Guwahati has one of the highest black carbon pollution levels in the country which is due to rapid urbanization and poor environment quality control.

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