Despite 2-Month Lockdown, Parts of Maharashtra Record an Increase in Urban Ground-Level Ozone Levels

Despite 2-Month Lockdown, Parts of Maharashtra Record an Increase in Urban Ground-Level Ozone Levels

An analysis conducted by Respirer Living Sciences (RLS) and Climate Trends using the National Clean Air Program (NCAP) tracker has revealed that urban ground-level ozone levels in ten cities of Maharashtra have increased by 10.3% during the three phases of the lockdown. These cities include Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai, and Kalyan within the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. The data was collected for the two month period between March 24 and May 24.

The study found that Khadakpada in Kalyan noted the highest average ozone concentration at 70 micrograms per cubic metre (μg/m³). The safe limit for ozone concentration is said to be 80 μg/m³ for a period of 24 hours. 

At second place was the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) station in Khutala, Chandrapur at 64 μg/m³. The average concentration in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region was recorded between 23 to 37 μg/m³, although there was a 50% increase in O3 emissions as compared to 2019.

Read Also - Study Claims Three-Quarters Of Mumbai’s Air Pollution Dropped During The Lockdown

On the brighter side of things, there was a 50% reduction in Mumbai of nitrogen dioxide or NO2 emissions as compared to 2019. This makes sense as NO2 is generated by exhausts on vehicles and burning coal. Thane reportedly saw a 58% dip in NO2 levels from last year.

Ronak Sutaria, Founder and Director at RLS said - “The analysis indicates that when NO2 levels remain low, surface ozone is higher as photochemical production can become more efficient during summer months.”

“Breathing air with high ozone poses a risk for people with asthma and other lung ailments especially for children, older adults, and those active outdoors such as daily wage workers,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) has confirmed these findings and is reportedly seeking data from individual stations to investigate the spike in ozone concentration in several parts of Maharashtra, including Mumbai.

Ground-level ozone concentrations are dangerous for people with conditions like asthma as well as cardiovascular diseases.