Abnormal increase in air pollution levels in Sri Lanka: NBRO

Pollution levels – source: National Building Research Organisation

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has recorded an abnormal drop in air quality levels from October 27 and the pollution is continuing to rise despite lower vehicle movement in urban areas cities, the National Building Research Organisation (NBRO) said.

According to NBRO’s Air Quality Monitoring Center data, apart from the southern parts of the country, the particulate matter level in the atmosphere in Colombo, Kandy, Puttalam, Vavuniya, Jaffna and other places has increased.

“The air pollution levels had been low in urban areas of Sri Lanka during past few days due to relatively low vehicle movements with the Covid 19 pandemic situation in the country. Therefore, the reason behind this unexpected sudden increase of air quality level could be linked with the variation of the wind pattern around the island,” NBRO said.

NBRO added that the amount of “particulate matter (PM)” in the atmosphere has doubled in the last few days. The particulate material found in the air is PM2.5.

According to the U.S. Air Quality Index, the smallest particulate material, PM 2.5, has a value of between 100 and 150, a condition that can have a profound effect on sensitive groups.

PM refers to a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets found in the air such and particles such as soot, dust, dirt, or smoke as being visible to naked eye. It is categorized according to particle size. PM10 carries particles 10 micrometres or smaller and are inhalable, while PM2.5 carries particles 2.5 micrometres and smaller which is three times smaller than a hair strand.

“In terms of metrological conditions, northerly winds are blowing from Indian peninsular which has high air pollution,” an official at the meteorological department said.

NRBO also said that the world air quality map published by Air Visual website showed that the air pollutants level in the atmosphere in the Indian peninsular are high during these days and it would be contributing to the Sri Lankan situation as the behaviour of air quality and wind pattern represented as follows.

This polluted condition is expected to continue for the next few days and may cause some breathing difficulties for sensitive groups (children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with respiratory illnesses), but not for others, NBRO advised.

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“The health sector has been alerted to the potential health effects of this condition, and it is advisable to follow a routine such as wearing a regular mask and minimizing strenuous activities (exercise, sports, work outdoors) to minimize health problems. Also, seek medical advice if you have any respiratory problems.”

The presence of such polluted conditions can be observed due to natural changes such as the invisibility of buildings and other places far away from the horizon, the appearance of smoke in the surrounding atmosphere, and the presence of a slightly darker sky.

The NBRO Air Quality Monitoring Team is continuously monitoring the air quality levels in urban areas for changes in the conditions and will educate individuals and organizations as needed.
(Colombo/Oct30/2020)

Reported by Mahadiya Hamza

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