Visakhapatnam: On Bhogi day, the air quality index in most parts of the city reached hazardous levels on Tuesday, with Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5 and Particulate Matter (PM) 10 levels going north. The sudden dip in temperature in the city is also attributed to the rise in pollution as the pollutant particles float remain in ambient air.

Bhogi bonfire is a ritual in which useless household articles are thrown into a fire made of wood and cow-dung cakes.

According to the real-time monitoring of Central Pollution Control Board, PM 2.5 at GVMC station was at 275mg/m3 at 6 am on Tuesday while PM 10 was 256 mg/m3. T

The other pollutants CO, NO2, SO2 also saw a drastic rise deviating from their normal values.

Besides the state pollution control board, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has also set up real-time pollutant monitoring station under National Air Quality Index project at five places in the state—Vizag, Rajahmundry, Tirupati, Vijayawada and Amaravati. The Air Quality Index is a number used to communicate the level of pollution in the air and it essentially tells you the level of pollution in the air in a given city on a given day. The highest level of any pollutants under monitoring is considered as AQI.

When the air quality index is poor it can cause breathing discomfort to most people on prolonged exposure. The permissible concentration of PM 2.5 particles is 40 µg/m3 (annual average) and 60 µg/m3 (24-hour average) in industrial, residential, rural or other areas, as per Indian National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), while the permissible limit for PM 10 particles is 60µg/m³ (annual average). PM 2.5 particles measure 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter and are dangerous as they can settle in lungs and the respiratory tract, while PM 10 refers to particulate matter that are 10 micrometers or less in diameter.

Environment engineers say environmental conditions like low wind speeds, cooler temperature contribute to extending the suspension of such pollutants near the ground. The bowl shape of the city is also one of the main reasons the pollutants do not escape from the ambient air easily.

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