Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: Planning any wintry weekend shopping or thinking of just taking a stroll at the markets during the evening hours in the districts of Cuttack, Khordha (including Bhubaneswar), Puri, Ganjam (including Berhampur), Jagatsinghpur, Bhadrak, Kendrapara and Nayagarh?

Do a rethink. Smog is going to rule here. It will attain the heights in the evening hours on Friday-Saturday in the districts.

Significantly, it's the dense foggy conditions that is further aggravating the smog situation in the aforesaid districts. As per the forecast by IMD and ECMWF, the dense foggy conditions will engulf the above eight districts till Monday. However, foggy weather is predicted to prevail in Odisha till December 19, but will remain limited to few places in southern districts alone.

How Harmful Is Smog For People?

The word "smog" is a combination of the words "smoke" and "fog." And Smog is a mixture of many pollutants, mainly ground level ozone and fine particulate matters (PM2.5).

"Smog with PM pollutants have a very harmful impact on people with respiratory disorders like Acute Respiratory Syndrome (ARI). Exposure to smog for a prolonged duration may increase mortalities related to the respiratory diseases, " warned Dr PC Sahoo, former CDMO at Capital Hospital.

As per the data available with State Health Department, Odisha records 18-23 lakh Acute Respiratory Infection (ARI) cases per year. And the ARI fatalities hover in the range of 50-110 per year. Data shows the State records nearly 2-3 deaths every 10 days during a year.

Who Will Be At Risk?

  • Though children, seniors need to be extra protective, but doctors say asthmatics will be the worst hit as the episodes of asthma attacks will rise due to Smog.
  • Patients with history of cardiovascular (heart) disease or bronchial disease need to avoid the smog hours.
  • Can aggravate Chest irritation, coughing, eye diseases and pneumonia and lung cancer
  • One may have symptoms of headache and wheezing, if have a long exposure.

Odisha Air Quality Forecast

As per the Government of India's lead meteorological entities like Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) and IMD, Odisha's air quality will see deterioration till December 13.

The worst hit districts will be Ganjam, Puri, Nayagarh, Khordha (including Bhubaneswar), Cuttack, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara and Jajpur. The PM 2.5 concentration in the air is predicted to remain above 200 microgram/m3 till Sunday in the districts.

IMD forecast says that PM 10 concentration in Odisha air will remain over 150 micrograms/m3, when the safe limit prescribed is 100 micrograms/m3.

Ozone limit will be higher than the prescribed safe limit of 100 micrograms/m3 in Odisha, except Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Bhadrak, Balasore etc.

The State Of Smog In Bhubaneswar

Bhubaneswar is the worst hit by Smog. Air pollution has deteriorated in the City since December 1 this year. The PM 2.5 level in Bhubaneswar air has been remaining far above the safe limit of 60 micrograms/m3. The trend observed so far reveals that while the level of particulate matters drop to around 100 micrograms/m3 during the early morning (3 am) to morning hours (11 am), it peaks to over 200 micrograms/m3 during the evening hours (5-7pm).

The forecast for tomorrow (Friday), IITM predict the PM2.5 level in the air to touch around 233 micrograms/m3 during the evening hours (5-7pm).

Real Time Air Pollution In Capital City

The Air quality index today in Jayadev Vihar today at around 8:50 pm is 263, which means the air is hazardous. As per Skymet, mask is must for the sensitive age-groups. In Jagamara, the AQI is 163, which means very unhealthy.

Why Air Quality Worsens?

"Wind is blowing from northeast direction to Odisha carrying significant moisture content. Sufficient moisture on the ground condenses as the ground cools during the night resulting in fog formation," explains former director of IMD, Bhubaneswar, Sarat Sahoo. December and January are the peak months for fog formation, he observed and further added that due to foggy conditions the pollutants get trapped at lower level of air, which results in worsening of air quality here.