Pathanamthitta: Pathanamthitta in Kerala has retained the status of the second least polluted town in India, while Tezpur of Assam has also retained its place as India’s least polluted, according to the data from Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
The air pollution index (API) is determined according to the presence of fine Particulate Matter (PM) contained in the air. PM 2.5 is the standard level and it refers to PM less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter. It is expressed in micrograms per cubic meter of air (µg/m3).
While the maximum allowed PM value is 100 µg/m3, Pathanamthitta has only 35–40 µg/m3. However, in New Delhi, one of the most polluted Indian cities, this reaches 150 µg/m3 even on ordinary days, shooting up to 400 µg/m3 on winter days. (A micron is one-millionth of a meter.)
The air quality is measured using an instrument called High Volume Sampler which functions 24 hours. The instrument was placed at the District Pollution Control Board’s office near the General Hospital, Pathanamthitta.
Such small particulate matter is contained in the exhaust from the vehicles, moisture content and the smoke that is released while burning plastic or dry leaves. This particulate matter can directly enter the bloodstream from the air we breathe, causing a multitude of health conditions including heart diseases. It is this dangerous potential of the particulate matter that has caused the organisations like World Health Organisation (WHO) to zero in on air pollution as a major health hazard.
A rise in air pollution can lead to diseases like asthma and heart ailments in children. Normal air usually contains 20.95 per cent Oxygen, 78.09 per cent Nitrogen and 0.03 per cent Carbon Dioxide.