Mumbai Air Pollution 2022 | Case Study, Essay & Statistics

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Whenever there is a discussion on the most polluted cities in India, the usual culprits are Delhi, Patna, Kolkata, and other northern towns. Yes. It is true because the winter season makes the air heavy and more polluted.

Usually, we miss out on coastal cities like Mumbai because the general feeling is that the coastal towns are less polluted. But you are in for a surprise because Mumbai ranks sufficiently high on the world’s top ten most polluted cities.

This graph analyzes the world’s top ten most polluted cities on December 18, 2022, at 17.45 hours. (Source – https://www.iqair.com/in-en/world-air-quality-ranking)

If you feel this is a one-off incident, look at the Mumbai Air Quality Index forecast that displays the air quality index from December 15 to 21, 2022. You will find that the AQI has been consistently rated as unhealthy.

Source – https://www.iqair.com/in-en/india/maharashtra/mumbai

The air quality in Mumbai has been consistently bad in Mumbai throughout 2022. Official figures estimate more than 25,000 deaths in Mumbai in 2022. Besides, air pollution costs a bomb. Air pollution in Mumbai will cost approximately $3.6 billion in 2022.

Source – https://www.iqair.com/in-en/newsroom/cost-of-air-pollution

Mumbai Air Pollution – 2022 Analysis

Source – https://www.aqi.in/in/dashboard/india/maharashtra/mumbai

An analysis of the above graphical representation provides the following information.

  1. Overall, Mumbai’s air quality is consistently poor, bordering on unhealthy.
  2. June to September is the best period in terms of air pollution. The prime reason is that September 2022 was particularly rainy, with the city experiencing copious rainfall.
  3. The air pollution index was considerably lower throughout the year than in Delhi.
  4. The summer months of March to May are critical because the AQI breached the Hazardous category frequently.
  5. The winter months are comparatively milder, but the situation needs improvement.

The Primary Causes of Mumbai Air Pollution

Let us now discuss the primary causes of Mumbai’s air pollution. AQI classifies air pollutants into major categories, like PM2.5, PM10, Ozone, Carbon Monoxide, Nitrogen dioxide, and Sulphur dioxide. Here is the graphical representation of the major air pollutants in Mumbai.

Source – https://www.aqi.in/in/dashboard/india/maharashtra/mumbai

Mumbai’s Unique Geography

Mumbai has a unique geographical distribution. Besides Mumbai city and its suburban area, the geographical limits extend to the neighboring Thane district and Navi Mumbai municipal corporation.

Mumbai city does not have many industrial clusters because they are distributed in specific locations in the suburbs, Thane district, and Navi Mumbai cluster. However, the offices and business centers are located inside city limits. Therefore, people from the suburbs, Thane district, and Navi Mumbai commute to the city to work daily.

Fortunately, most of the population travel to the city by electric local trains. Besides, the metro railway is well spread out inside the city. However, the city’s unique geographical shape increases vehicle density considerably. Reports indicate that Mumbai has 2150 vehicles per kilometer of road. In comparison, the vehicle density in Delhi is five times less. So, vehicular emission is a significant cause of air pollution in Mumbai.

Vehicular Pollution

With industries usually situated outside Mumbai city limits, vehicular emission is the most significant contributor to Mumbai’s air pollution woes. A study conducted by the System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research shows that the share of vehicular emissions has increased considerably to over 30%, a significant rise from 16% in 2016-17.

Maharashtra’s Economic Survey Report for 2020-21 states that Mumbai accounts for nearly 10.3% of the state’s vehicle registrations. Mumbai has more than 40 lakh vehicles comprising around 24 lakh two-wheelers and 12 lakh private cars. The balance consists of public buses and other vehicles.

Vehicular emission comprises carbon monoxide, PM2.5 and PM10 pollutants, and other toxic gases. We shall discuss particulate matter pollution in the following paragraphs.

PM2.5 and PM10 pollutants in Mumbai

Source – https://www.iqair.com/in-en/india/maharashtra/mumbai

PM2.5

PM2.5 constitutes pollutants with a diameter of fewer than 2.5 microns. These particles are so tiny that they can enter our respiratory system and lodge themselves inside our lungs by depositing as a layer over our alveoli. As a result, we can suffer from chronic respiratory problems that can lead to severe lung damage.

This graph details PM2.5 levels in Mumbai’s air over a month from November 19, 2022.

Historic air quality graph for Mumbai

While global standards stipulate PM2.5 levels over 5 µg/m3 as unsafe, anything up to 35 µg/m3 is considered standard. In contrast, the Indian CPCB prescribes PM2.5 levels up to 40 µg/m3 as permissible. Unfortunately, the graph shows that Mumbai’s PM2.5 levels for the past month have been consistently more than 50 µg/m3. So, this does not point toward a healthy situation.

PM10

PM10 pollutants are comparatively larger than PM2.5 as they constitute pollutants up to 10 microns in diameter. These particles can enter the respiratory system but do not enter the lungs. However, they can line up the windpipe and nasal cavity to cause sufficient damage.

PM10 pollutants are generally found in dust and smoke. Inhaling these pollutants can cause respiratory problems like asthma and COPD. However, these particles only remain in the air for a few minutes to a couple of hours. Let us look at the graphical representation of PM10 pollutants in Mumbai’s air.

PM10 in mumbai graph

The World Health Organization’s safe standard for PM10 pollutants in the air is 15 µg/m3. CPCB’s annual average permissible limits are 60 µg/m3. But, Mumbai’s air consistently contains PM10 pollutant levels of more than 150. That takes Mumbai’s air quality into the ‘Poor Quality’ band, bordering on the ‘Unhealthy.’

Is PM10 worse than PM2.5?

US Environmental Protection Agency says that exposure to particulate pollution directly impacts human health. The smaller the pollutant, the more dangerous it is. The ill effects of inhaling particulate matter include cardiovascular problems and respiratory issues like bronchitis and asthma.

Much depends on the particulate matter size. So PM2.5 poses the most significant risk because it includes less than 2.5 microns of particulate matter. These particles can penetrate your lungs and even enter the bloodstream. In contrast, PM10 pollutants cause less concern. But they can enter the throat, eyes, and nose to irritate.

Ozone

Ozone is not much of an issue in Mumbai because it is a coastal city, and people are used to its ozone levels. However, ozone is more harmful in the summer than in the colder rainy and winter seasons. That explains why the Mumbai air is more polluted from March to June every year.

Besides, Mumbai does not experience stagnant air situations. The cool breeze from the sea during the evenings does not allow the ozone to settle at ground levels. Hence, ozone cannot be considered a primary air pollution source in Mumbai. However, the position can worsen in summer when the sun’s rays fall directly to the ground.

This graph shows that the ozone pollution level in the last month is not of much concern. The ozone levels are consistently below 50 µg/m3, whereas the WHO guidelines stipulate safe ozone levels up to 100 µg/m3.

Other Industrial Gases

Mumbai has few industries, but the industrial belt is in the suburbs and neighboring Thane and Raigad districts. As a result, industrial emissions from these factories contribute much to Mumbai’s air pollution woes.

Industries situated in Taloja Industrial Estate, Ambernath, Dombivli, Wagle Industrial Estate, Patalganga, Mira-Bhayandar belt, Marol, and Kalyan-Bhiwandi belt are the prime culprits in polluting Mumbai’s air quality. The Center for Science and Environment (CSE) Study shows that these industries emit toxic gases like sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides to add to the pollution levels.

The report highlights that the key industries operating in the industrial belts are gradually turning Mumbai into a pressure-cooker situation like in Delhi. This graphical representation depicts the various polluting sectors as follows.

Industrial polluiton in mumbai

https://www.firstpost.com/india/mumbai-air-polluted-largely-by-coal-powered-industry-better-tech-and-infrastructure-needed-cse-report-9323941.html

The primary reason for air pollution is that industries use coal as fuel. Statistics say that nearly 35% of industries use coal as fuel, 16% use agro-based residues, and around 8% use PNG. The average coal consumption is approximately two million tonnes annually. Thus, carbon monoxide is a critical air pollutant in these industrial belts near Mumbai.

Dust Pollution

A National Environmental Engineering Institute (NEERI) study showed that 71% of PM10 pollution in Mumbai’s air is because of road dust. Road dust includes minute solid particles generated during the processing and handling of road-building and construction materials, including gravel and cement.

The NEERI report says that 45% of road dust comes from unpaved roads, whereas paved roads contribute 26% to the dust load. Construction activities account for 8%, and vehicles contribute 3%. The balance comes from various sources, like open eateries, bakeries, crematoriums, aircraft, and marine vessels.

Dust Pollution Causes in mumbai

Power Plants and Garbage burning

The areas around Chembur have many refineries. Besides, the Tata Power Plant in Turbhe is also a significant source of air pollution in Mumbai. The indiscriminate use of coal as fuel results in toxic emissions comprising gases like sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and carbon monoxide.

Reports state that these refineries in the Chembur and Mahul areas near Mumbai are hotspots for air pollution. Besides, the neighborhoods near Deonar and Mankhurd have massive garbage dumps. People regularly burn garbage that lets out toxic fumes to pollute the nearby areas. The breeze carries the smoke right over Navi Mumbai, Panvel, and the neighboring Raigad district.

Population Expansion

Mumbai is always considered the land of dreams. Lakhs of people come to Mumbai every day in search of better fortune. The beauty of Mumbai is that it welcomes everyone. Besides, people settling down in the city do not like to leave it. As a result, Mumbai is bursting at its seams.

The cost of real estate in Mumbai is massive. Therefore, Mumbai sees slums proliferating everywhere. Dharavi has a reputation for being the most extensive slum area in the world. Slums bring problems, such as poor access to water and sanitation systems, poor health, lack of education, and, most importantly, air pollution.

People living in slums usually do not have access to quality fuel. So they rely on coal and other organic materials for fuel, adding to air pollution. Besides affecting the slum dwellers, the smoke emitting from these stoves spreads into the air and affects other residential areas.

Climatic Conditions

Have you ever heard of a dust storm in Mumbai? If it were Sharjah or Dubai, you could expect dust storms, but Mumbai witnessed three dust storms in January and February 2022. Besides exacerbating Mumbai’s air pollution, these dust storms reduced visibility to low levels.

The reason for these dust storms is attributed to human-inflicted global warming and pollution. In addition, these dust storms coincided with the dust storms emanating from Pakistan and Afghanistan borders, suggesting that they could become a regular feature in the future.

These dust storms were critical in deteriorating Mumbai’s AQI and took it above Delhi levels. Thus, it raised the debate whether Mumbai’s air quality is worse than that of Delhi.

Is Mumbai’s air quality worse than that of Delhi’s?                        

When you compare Mumbai’s air pollution with that of Delhi, you can see that Delhi’s air is worse than that of Mumbai. This comparison should prove the point. We consider real-time figures for Mumbai and Delhi on December 21, 2022, at around 9.15 am.

ParametersDelhiMumbai
Air Quality Index222177
PM2.5171.5 µg/m3105.2 µg/m3
PM10319.5 µg/m3177.3 µg/m3
Ozone4.4 µg/m35.1 µg/m3
Nitrogen Dioxide40.1 µg/m372.7 µg/m3
Over WHO levels34.3 times21 times

The comparison shows that Mumbai’s air quality is better than Delhi’s. However, there is no reason to rejoice because Mumbai’s air is still unhealthy, mainly because the PM2.5 concentration in PM10 is higher in Mumbai than in Delhi.

Let us compare the average AQI of Mumbai and Delhi for seven days from December 18 to December 24, 2022. Both cities have highly polluted air, with Delhi being worse than Mumbai.

Delhi Vs. Mumbai Air Pollution

These statistics should shut out the debate about whether Mumbai’s air quality is worse or better than Delhi’s. Now, let us discuss how Mumbai fares in air pollution statistics compared to other prominent Indian cities like Chennai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad. We leave out the northern towns, especially in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, because these cities are fit for comparing with Delhi, and not Mumbai.

How does Mumbai compare with other top Indian cities?

These statistics should put things into proper perspective. We have relied on actual figures from official sources.

ParametersMumbaiKolkataChennaiHyderabadBengaluru
Air Quality Index177233164167108
PM2.5105.2 µg/m3182.9 µg/m380 µg/m386.2 µg/m338.4 µg/m3
PM10177.3 µg/m3247 µg/m3121.9 µg/m3180.8 µg/m388 µg/m3
Ozone5.1 µg/m332 µg/m340 µg/m316.5 µg/m326 µg/m3
Nitrogen Dioxide72.7 µg/m318.8 µg/m339.3 µg/m37.2 µg/m325.6 µg/m3
Over WHO levels21 times36.6 times16 times17.2 times7.7 times

These statistics show that Mumbai is far less polluted than Kolkata. But, compared to the southern metros, Mumbai has higher air pollution levels. Bangalore is the best city among these prominent metros.

Let us discuss the relative AQI positions of these five metros for December 18, 2022, to December 24, 2022. We have considered real-time data from the website https://www.iqair.com/in-en/india/.

The comparison shows that Chennai and Bengaluru are less polluted than Mumbai, whereas Hyderabad is more or less equal to Mumbai. Kolkata has comparatively higher air pollution levels than all the other cities discussed here.

Average AQI Comparison - Five Prominent Indian Metros

How does Mumbai’s air pollution affect its residents?

Mumbai’s industrial areas are spread over its suburbs and neighboring Thane and Raigad districts. The maximum industrial belt concentration is in Wagle Industrial Estate, Chembur, Turbhe, Dombivli, Ambernath, Ulhasnagar, Badlapur, Mira-Bhayandar belt, and Panvel-Patalganga belt. These industries spew maximum amounts of nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide gases.

Burning fossil fuels, like coal and oil, is primarily responsible for high sulfur dioxide levels in Mumbai’s air. Besides, vehicular emissions in these areas are responsible for nitrogen dioxide and dust pollution.

So, Mumbai residents live in gas chamber-like conditions. As a result, respiratory diseases are common. The long-term effects of inhaling polluted air include bronchitis, asthma, COPD, and other respiratory problems among children and older adults.  

Besides, Mumbai residents living near these industries suffer from skin problems because of the absorption of industrial effluents through the skin. Other health issues include dyspnea, intermittent cough, cardiac disorders, and high blood pressure. Lung cancer and premature deaths are other common risks of breathing polluted air. 

Mumbai Air Pollution – Diseases and Death Statistics

  • A global study estimated that Mumbai witnessed nearly 25,000 deaths from air pollution in 2020. The figure was second only to Delhi, which experienced 54,000 deaths.

Source – Greenpeace Southeast Asia Report on Air Pollution

  • An independent study shows that nearly 100,000 people die prematurely from polluted air exposure in Indian cities like Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Surat, and Pune.
  • The PM2.5-linked mortality rate in Mumbai is the highest among South Asian cities, at 46%. In comparison, Delhi ranked second at 39%. Kolkata gets the third rank among Indian towns at 23%. Other metros like Chennai, Hyderabad, and Bengaluru fared much better. 

The Diwali Connection

Does Diwali have any connection with Mumbai air pollution? As it is, Mumbai’s air is polluted and falls in the ‘Poor’ category. Diwali, the festival of lights and crackers, exacerbates air pollution levels and takes it to the ‘Very Poor’ category. Mumbai’s air quality post-Diwali has consistently shown a decline in its quality.

Mumbai’s air quality post-Diwali has consistently shown a decline in its quality.

Mumbai’s AQI was the worst this Diwali, with the figure touching 320. The night before Diwali, the AQI was 149. So, it jumped from the ‘Moderate’ category to ‘Very Poor’ in just one night. The prime reason was pollution because of bursting crackers during Diwali.

People can argue that Diwali is an annual festival that comes once a year. Besides, people across all religions celebrate Diwali. However, they should also note that air pollution is critical. Indeed, there must be better ways of celebrating Diwali than bursting crackers and polluting the air.

2019, 2020, and 2021 AQI figures were low because of continuous rain during Diwali. This year, the monsoon had withdrawn entirely from Mumbai before Diwali. Besides, 2020 and 2021 were COVID years, and the celebrations were subdued. 2022 was the first year people celebrated Diwali extensively after COVID.  

Mumbai Air Pollution – Pre and Post-COVID-19 period

COVID-19 will go down in history as one of the worst diseases that caused innumerable casualties worldwide. Mumbai experienced the most significant brunt of COVID and witnessed the maximum number of deaths. But one can search for the positives even in the worst of circumstances. For example, COVID-19 lockdowns helped reduce air pollution considerably in Mumbai, Delhi, and throughout India.

  • The PM2.5 levels in Mumbai before the lockdown (March 24, 2020, to May 31, 2020) ranged from 60 µg/m3 to 120 µg/m3. During the lockdown, it declined to between 10 µg/m3 and 40 µg/m3 in various wards in Mumbai. The figures in June 2020 were between 10 µg/m3 to 24 µg/m3, indicating that the lockdown positively reduced air pollution. The primary reason was drastically-reduced vehicular movement.

Source – https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0013935121003467

  • Similarly, PM10 levels in Mumbai before the lockdown were 225 µg/m3. However, within four days of the lockdown, it dropped to 60 µg/m3.
  • Similar drops in levels were witnessed in other pollutants, including ozone, nitrogen oxides, ammonia, sulfur dioxide, and other gases.

As a result, the overall NAQI in Mumbai witnessed a steep drop from March 2020 to June 2020. However, the joy of breathing pure air was short-lived because the NAQI regained its high levels after September 2020.

Source – https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0013935121003467              

However, COVID-19 proved disastrous for people with respiratory problems like asthma and bronchitis. So, COVID-19 supplemented air pollution, hastening their deaths, and resulting in many premature casualties.

How has the municipal administration tackled Mumbai air pollution?

The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board has confirmed that the BMC is taking steps to create green buffers along traffic corridors. BMC has plans to blacktop metaled roles to reduce dust pollution. Around 364 green traffic islands are being constructed across the city as dust traps.

The 15th Finance Commission has sanctioned Rs 1,240 crores towards addressing air pollution in Mumbai. The municipal administration has allocated Rs 99.22 crores (8%) towards dust mitigation. 80% of the funds (Rs 992) is allotted to public transport electrification under the Maharashtra Electric Vehicle Policy 2025.

The Maharashtra Government has formulated a Graded Response Action Plan similar to the one planned by the Delhi Government to combat air pollution. Such a plan is invariable in cities that consistently fail to meet NAAQ standards for PM10 and nitrogen dioxide pollution. The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) visualized this plan with the BMC and planned to implement it throughout Mumbai and its suburbs.

The GRAP categorizes areas depending on the air quality index and plans to act accordingly in the following manner.

Moderate to poor
PM2.5 – 60 to 120 µg/m3 and PM10 – 101 to 350 µg/m3
Imposition of severe penalties for dumping and burning garbageAuditing of industries to ensure compliance with all regulationsDeploy mechanical road-sweeping machinesStop the plying of visibly polluting vehicles on the roadsEnforce the Supreme Court’s ban on firecrackers on all occasionsIssue health advisories to citizens and encourage them to use apps to register complaintsWater fly ash ponds at thermal power stations every alternate day in the non-monsoon months
Very Poor
PM2.5 – 121 to 250 µg/m3 and PM10 – 351 to 430 µg/m3
Ban the use of diesel gensetsCurb private vehicle use by increasing parking fees three to four timesIssue media alerts and health advisories for vulnerable sections of the populationIncrease the metro and bus services to discourage the use of private vehiclesStop the use of coal and firewoodHousing societies to provide electric heaters to staff in cold regions
Severe
PM2.5 – 251 to 300 µg/m3 and PM10 – 431 to 500 µg/m3
Shut down stone crushers and hot mix plantsShut down nearby power plantsRapid increase in public transport servicesMechanized cleaning of roads and water sprinkling on dust-prone areas
Emergency
PM2.5 > 300 µg/m3 and PM10 > 500 µg/m3
Curb entry of heavy vehicles into city limits, except those carrying essential commoditiesA blanket ban on constructionIntroduce an odd-even scheme for private vehiclesConstitute a task force to decide on further action

However, the GRAP has yet to see much success in Delhi and its neighboring areas like Gurugram, Ghaziabad, Noida, Sonepat, and other places where the pollution levels continue to deteriorate.

Steps to take to improve the air quality in Mumbai – Individual Level

One must expect the Government to take steps to curb air pollution. But citizens, too, have a massive role to play. Though the BMC has started its work in earnest, Mumbai citizens should take responsibility. Here are some things they should do.

  • Individuals should avoid traveling in private cars to the office. Instead, they can use electric trains and public transport.
  • People can resort to carpooling. So if four car owners come together and start pooling, they reduce three cars on the roads. So, avoid traveling during peak hours.
  • Avoid using mosquito and other insect repellants.
  • Switch off your car and two-wheeler ignition keys at traffic signals if you sense a long wait exceeding 15 seconds.
  •  Refrain from burning leaves, paper, plastic, and other waste materials.
  • Use masks whenever you move out of your home.
  • Close your home’s doors and windows if any construction activity is happening in the neighborhood.
  • Attend seminars and participate in programs creating awareness of air pollution.
  • Refrain from smoking cigarettes and undergo lung function tests regularly.
  • Turn off electrical devices if not in use. It helps conserve energy and protects the environment.
  • Plant as many trees as you can to restore the lost forest cover that Mumbai had in olden times.
  • Use solar power to generate electricity for your homes. It will reduce the dependence on state-supplied electricity.
  • Invest in energy-efficient appliances. Please go for reusable products as much as possible.
  • Refuse to accept plastic bags from shopkeepers. Instead, take a cloth bag with you.
  • Use rechargeable batteries for devices you use frequently.
  • Service your vehicles on time.
  • Note the AQI every day by installing the smartphone app on your phone. It helps you know the pollution in your area. Besides, this app provides information about highly polluted areas in your city. So you can avoid visiting such places.
  • If possible, use an air purifier at home.
  • Refrain from bursting firecrackers on all occasions. It includes Diwali. There must be better ways of celebrating Diwali rather than bursting crackers.

What should Mumbai do to avoid going the Delhi way?

Mumbai can do the following things to prevent going the Delhi way.

  • Install a sensor-based monitoring system that can calculate air quality within a radius of three km around it. A prototype design has been made by the students of the University of Newcastle and is available for Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000.
  • Beijing is already using such sensors by placing them atop light poles to monitor air quality.
  • This system comprises two sensors, a chemical gas sensor and an optical gas sensor. The chemical gas sensor measures the concentration of toxic gases, whereas the optical gas sensor measures PM2.5 and PM10 pollutants.
  • Mumbai had a beautiful forest cover in the olden days. Today, a significant portion of the forest is non-existent. Mumbai residents can plant trees and try to restore as much green cover as possible.
  • The Mumbai administration should tighten emission norms for industrial sectors. Besides, it should encourage them to go for low-emission fuel.
  • Mumbai should encourage electric vehicles. First, they should scrap vehicles with BS-IV and lower-level engines immediately. Then, they can start with commercial vehicles, followed by private cars.

Ways to tackle dust pollution

Dust is a localized problem. Therefore, the tactics that work in Delhi may not work in Mumbai. However, Mumbai has an advantage because of its extensive coastal presence. The air flowing from the sea helps sweep the dust away.

The Maharashtra Government earmarked 8% of its total budget of Clean Air Funds, amounting to Rs 99.22 crores out of Rs 1240 crores towards dust mitigation. It also allotted 80% of the funds (Rs 992 crores) toward the electrification of Mumbai’s public transport system.

One solution to tackle road dust is to build better roads that do not require revamping. For example, the Bandra-Worli Sea Link is a high-quality road. The solution is to make more such roads.

Mechanical dust-sweeping machines worked well in Delhi. The Mumbai municipal administration can try out this solution. Another solution is using chemical dust suppressants that make the dust particles heavier and prevent them from spreading into the air.

Converting non-paved roadsides into tiled pavements is a good solution. Similarly, greening road medians and traffic islands help bind the soil together because they act as dust traps. Additives like calcium chloride, lignin sulfonate, or bio-polymers can improve soil moisture content and make it resistant to erosion.

Delhi has implemented speed restrictions, anti-smog guns, and giant-sized vacuum cleaners. Mumbai does not require such drastic measures. However, dust-sweeping machines can prove beneficial. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) plans to extend the use of these machines from the present 253 km of city roads to the entire 2000+ km vast road network.

How does Mumbai’s air pollution level compare with ISO standards?

The World Health Organization lists the updated guidelines about annual average concentrations of air pollutants. Let us see how Mumbai fares in comparison.

PollutantAverage TimeWHO GuidelinesMumbai Position
PM2.5 µg/m3Annual 24-hour5 15  119.5 µg/m3
PM10 µg/m3Annual 24-hour15 45  215.5 µg/m3
Ozone µg/m3Peak season 8-hour60 100  31 µg/m3
Nitrogen dioxide µg/m3Annual 24-hour10 25  87.6 µg/m3
Sulfur dioxide µg/m324-hour4056.1 µg/m3

Frequently Asked Questions – Mumbai Air Pollution

1. Is Mumbai air quality uniformly bad throughout the city and its suburbs?

No. Though the Mumbai air quality is poor, it is not uniformly bad throughout the city and its suburbs. For example, on December 22, 2022, Bandra-Kurla Complex had an AQI of 247, whereas Worli had 155. So, much depends on the localized pollution.

2. Which season experiences the worst air quality in Mumbai? Which is the least polluted season?

The summer season between March and June sees the worst air pollution in Mumbai. Conversely, the monsoon season from July to September is the least polluted season in Mumbai.

3. How do you resolve indoor air pollution in Mumbai?

We advise you to close your windows and doors, especially if you live in areas like Chembur, Sion-Dharavi, Turbhe, Deonar, etc., where there is high air pollution. You can invest in indoor air purifiers. However, if you reside in less polluted areas near the coastline, you can keep your house well-ventilated to allow unrestricted airflow.

4. Is it advisable to wear masks when going out in Mumbai?

Yes. With the COVID-19 threat still not eliminated from the city, everyone should wear masks in Mumbai. We advise using good-quality masks like N95 masks to reduce the chances of inhaling contaminated air.

5. How did Mumbai lose its green cover?

Mumbai lost its green cover by 40% between 1991 and 2022 because of rampant modernization and construction activities. Besides, Mumbai lost 30% of its water bodies. All these factors also contributed to the deteriorating quality of Mumbai’s air.

6. Which is the more car-congested city in India?

Mumbai is the most car-congested city in India. Though Delhi has more cars than Mumbai, the car density is the highest in Mumbai.

7. How can carpooling help reduce air pollution?

Vehicular emission is the prime cause of Mumbai’s air pollution. Though most Mumbai residents travel by electric trains, the city has the highest car density in the country. Studies show that most cars have single occupants. So if three or four people share a car through carpooling, it can reduce the car density on the roads and lead to lower vehicular emissions. Thus, it can help tackle air pollution.

8. How is life expectancy affected in Mumbai because of air pollution?

Studies show that continuous exposure to PM2.5 pollutants has reduced the average lifespan of Mumbai citizens by 3.7 years.

9. Why is Mahul near Mumbai known as a gas chamber?

Mahul has the highest number of refineries and the maximum toxic gas emissions in Mumbai. As a result, people residing in Mahul suffer from severe respiratory ailments from inhaling poisonous air daily. It is equivalent to living in a gas chamber.

10. Can planting trees solve the problem of air pollution in Mumbai?

Yes. Mumbai has lost substantial green cover over the past four decades. So planting trees is the only way of restoring the green cover and reducing air pollution in Mumbai.

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