What’s the Update?
On 27 January 2018, the American Embassy ranked Kolkata’s peak PM 2.5 (particulate matter) levels at 332 at 7 am. The safe limit for PM 2.5, as stated by the Environmental Protection Agency, falls between 0-50, and at 0-60 by the Central Pollution Control Board. PM 2.5 levels of 332 is well above the safe limit, above even “hazardous” levels (301-500) as established by the EPA.
How Bad Is It?
Breathing air with a PM 2.5 level of 332, is the equivalent of smoking 30 cigarettes in a single day. Simply stepping outdoor and breathing leads to a number of health issues.
- The elderly and those with heart disease are more likely to experience cardiac arrest.
- People with respiratory problems may experience worsened symptoms.
- Pregnant women and children could suffer serious health problems with prolonged exposure.
What Precautions Can I Take?
These are some of the simplest steps you can take to lower and prevent damage done by breathing toxic air.
- Wearing an N95 mask while outdoors
- Running air-purifiers indoors
- Not going for morning walks
- No outdoor activity for children
Kolkata’s Pollution Crisis
Kolkata is gripped by a pollution crisis. The city has reported rising pollution levels over the past year. On many days, the air quality index report from the American Embassy in the city claimed particulate matter levels(PM2.5) were well above safe levels, above and beyond even “hazardous levels.”
The city’s real-time pollution monitors have been defunct since November 2017, and Mayor Sovan Chatterjee has denied reports of rising pollution levels, refuting reports that show the city’s pollution levels were worse than levels in the national capital, on many days.
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