Hyderabad sees a sharp spike in NO2 pollution
- Exposure to NO2 can severely impact people's health at all ages, including the respiratory and circulatory systems and the brain, leading to increases in hospital admissions and mortality
Hyderabad: A new report from the Greenpeace India reveals that a year after initial nationwide lockdowns due to Covid, nitrogen dioxide pollution has increased in all eight most populous State capitals studied. Among Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata, Jaipur and Lucknow, Delhi saw the most dramatic increase between April 2020 and April 2021.
NO2 is a dangerous air pollutant that is released when fuel is burned, as in most motor vehicles, power generation, and industrial processes. Exposure to NO2 can severely impact people's health at all ages, including the respiratory and circulatory systems and the brain, leading to increases in hospital admissions and mortality.
According to satellite observations, NO2 pollution in Hyderabad increased by 69 per cent between April 2020 and April 2021. The weather had only little contribution to this change. Whereas, in Delhi, NO2 was higher by 125 per cent, Chennai by 94 per cent, Mumbai by 52 per cent, Bengaluru by 90 per cent, Kolkata by 11 per cent, Jaipur by 47 per cent and Lucknow by 32 per cent in April 2021, than in the same month of the previous year.
As the pandemic continues to have a severe impact in the country and cases are spiking in other countries, there is growing evidence that polluted cities suffer disproportionately more corona virus cases. The health impact of fossil fuel-related air pollution is severe and has been reflected time and again in several reports. Yet there has been little change to people's reliance on fossil fuels, including coal, oil and gas. Increased economic activity is still largely coupled to toxic air pollution in most cities.
"The air quality levels in these cities are alarming. The cities and the people are already paying a huge price for our reliance on burning fossil fuels. This business as usual cannot continue. People saw clean skies and breathed fresh air during the nationwide lockdown though it was an unintended consequence of the pandemic.
The disruption caused by the pandemic is a case to transition to cleaner, equitable and sustainable de-centralised energy sources, such as rooftop solar and clean and sustainable mobility must be central to recovery efforts across cities. The recovery from the pandemic must not come at the expense of a return to previous levels of air pollution," said Avinash Chanchal, senior climate campaigner, Greenpeace India.
"Motor vehicles and industries based on fossil fuel consumption are the major drivers of NO2 pollution in cities. The governments, local administration and city planners must initiate the transition from privately-owned vehicles to an efficient, clean and safe public transport system that is run on clean energy that of course, must provide Covid-related safety measures," added Chanchal.