Pradeep Pattanayak

Rourkela city woke up to a thick blanket of dust on Wednesday morning while experts say the air condition will continue for few more days. The stuffy air has been a major cause of concern for the Steel City residents. 

During winter, smog has become a common occurrence and is said to be harmless (except for those having respiratory problems). But the smog presently experienced in Rourkela city, an unusual weather condition in summer, has forced citizens and experts scurry to find an answer. 

While the air quality index (AQI) in the range between 0 and 50 is considered to be good, the AQI of Rourkela city has been over 150. 
Presently, the Mining Engineering department of the National Institute of Technology (NIT), Rourkela is conducting a survey and preparing a report on the pollution status in the Steel City. 

The Head of the Department (HoD) of Mining Engineering department, Himanshu Bhushan Sahu said the air pollution experienced these days in the city is primarily due to vehicular and industrial pollution. “Bio-mass burning and forest fire have also their share of contribution towards the deteriorating air quality,” maintained Sahu. 

“The pollutants remain concentrated in the lower atmosphere because the atmospheric conditions required for dispersion of pollutants, air circulation and comparatively lower temperature in the upper level being two of them, are not occurring due to some reasons,” pointed Sahu. 

“In Rourkela city, all the parameters required to calculate AQI are above the normal level. The average concentration of PM 2.5 (suspended pollutant 2.5 micron or smaller) in the city is above 80ug/m3 whereas it should be 60ug/m3. Similarly, the average concentration of PM 10 should be 100ug/m3 in the city. But it is now above 150ug/m3,” Sahu informed. 

“If the presence of pollutants in the air crosses 100 or 150ug/m3, it will be certainly detrimental to health,” Sahu added.