On Diwali night, Lucknow air smelt like gunpowder
Lucknow witnessed the most polluted Diwali night in two years as fireworks pushed the level of air pollutants to alarming levels with people complaining that “the air smelt like gunpowder”.
The Indian Institute of Toxicology Research (IITR) has revealed that the respirable particulates in Lucknow during pre-Diwali, on Diwali and post-Diwali were well above the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. “The Diwali night the air smelt like gunpowder. It was better to stay indoors than to go out,” said Sudhakar Sharma, a local resident.
The report claimed that the bursting of crackers was widely responsible for increasing the particulate. IITR conducted Air Quality survey at 7 locations including four residential areas (Aliganj, Vikasnagar, Indiranagar, and Gomtinagar), one office (IITR-Vishvigyan Bhavan) and two commercial areas (Aminabad and Chowk) of Lucknow city to assess the impact of fireworks on the environment during the Diwali festival.
The collected results revealed that the respirable particulates during pre-Diwali, Diwali and post-Diwali were well above the National Ambient Air Quality Standards of 60 and 100 µg/m3 for PM2.5 and PM10 respectively.
During Diwali night, the mean level of PM2.5 increased from 248.1 to 672.2 µg/m3 over the pre-Diwali night and reduced to 308.9 µg/m3 during the post- Diwali night. Similarly, the level of PM10 also increased from 360.1 to 863.8 µg/m3 over the pre-Diwali night and reduced to 460.4 µg/m3 during the post-Diwali night.
The report further said on the Diwali night, the particulate matter (PM) 2.5 increased by 170.9 percent whereas the increase in PM10 over the pre- Diwali night was 139.8 percent. Further, the higher levels of particulates continued during the post-Diwali night by 24.5 percent and 27.9 percent for PM2.5 and PM10 respectively over pre-Diwali night levels . In the case of poisonous gases like sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), the mean levels increased. The mean level of SO2 on the Diwali night increased from 15.1 to 29.7 µg/m3 and on the post-Diwali mean SO2 level was 18.3 µg/m3 , indicating the levels increased 96.7 percent and 21.2 percent on the Diwali night and post-Diwali night respectively over the pre-Diwali night.
The mean level of NO2 on Diwali night increased from 54.2 to 94.2 µg/m3 over the pre-Diwali night. On the post-Diwali night mean of NO2 was increased from 54.2 to 60.9 µg/m3 . In terms of percentage, NO2 level increased 73.8 and 12.4 on Diwali night and post-Diwali night respectively over the pre-Diwali night.
“The report clearly shows that air quality of the city significantly deteriorated due to fireworks on Diwali night. This affected human health, particularly that of children and senior citizens,” the report said.