Over the past 20 days, the air in many Bihar cities has become the most poisonous in India. According to data released by the Central Pollution Control Board, Katihar in Bihar had the highest AQI (Air Quality Index) (360) out of 163 Indian cities.
Delhi had an AQI of 354, Noida had an AQI of 328 and Ghaziabad had an AQI of 304. While Begusarai (Bihar), Ballabgarh, Faridabad, Kaithal and Gurugram in Haryana as well as Gwalior (MP) were among the most polluted cities, reveals data.
According to BSPCB Chairman Ashok Ghosh, air quality worsened due to a drop in mercury and climate inversion.
“The air quality has decreased due to the decrease in temperature and low wind speed. During the winter transition there is a thermal inversion in which the suspended polluting particles rise with the warmer air. Apart from this, the geographic location of the state is also responsible for poor air quality,” he said.
Why does the air quality index increase?
AQI is a scale to measure air quality. If the air quality index (AQI) is below 50, then the air is considered better for health. An AQI between 50 and 100 is satisfactory, moderate between 100 and 200, poor between 200 and 300, and very poor between 300 and 400, and the air above 400 becomes dangerous.
There are many reasons to increase the AQI level. In the cold season, the air quality deteriorates due to increased humidity in the atmosphere and the blowing of dust particles. These dust particles disperse in the atmosphere during the summer, but this does not happen in the winter and they begin to settle in the air along with the fog.
According to a study by the University of Chicago Energy Policy Institute, almost the entire population of seven states, including Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, are under the influence of microscopic dust (PM 2.5). In Bihar, it is 85.9 micrograms per cubic meter, much higher than the standard set by the World Health Organization and in the country.
Effect of stubble burning in UP
Experts believe that smoke from burning stubble in the fields of Uttar Pradesh is also spoiling the air in Bihar. Ashok Kumar, Chairman of the Bihar State Pollution Control Board, says, ‘One of the reasons for the high level of AQI in northern Bihar cities like Motihari, Bettiah etc. is that these cities are adjacent to the UP border.
Due to the west wind, UP smoke is coming towards Bihar. That is why the border districts are getting heavily affected. In Bihar, there are almost no cases of stubble burning.
Poor waste segregation and burning of solid waste
The lack of segregation and management of solid waste is one of the reasons for the emissions that can occur due to the burning of said waste.
At present, waste is separated in only 3 of the 75 municipal districts in the state capital, Patna. “It takes us a long time to convince people to segregate waste at the source because most of them consider the removal of garbage from their homes as waste management.
We convince them to separate the waste from their own homes before throwing it away. We are currently working in three districts of Patna, where little by little people are understanding the importance of solid waste segregation,” said Monalisa, managing director of Mithinga Waste Management Private Limited, a Patna-based start-up that deals with raising awareness about waste management through travelling presentations.
Increase in cases of lung cancer
Medical experts claim that they have observed an increase in lung cancer cases in Bihar. As per experts air pollution as one of the main reasons for this. ‘We used to get about 19,000 lung cancer cases annually in 2015. Which has now increased to 25,000 cases. Including 7.4% male patients and 4.2% female patients,’ said Dr. Arun Kumar, Principal Scientist at Mahavir Cancer Sansthan and Research Centre. one of the premium cancer hospitals in Patna receiving patients from all over the state.
“Unfortunately, most patients, however, come in the third and fourth stages of cancer, where recovery is almost impossible. They cannot be blamed as most of them do not face any health complications and continue to live normal life. It’s too late when they come here. The increase in air pollution is obviously one of the reasons for the rise in lung cancer cases in Bihar,” Kumar said.
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