The air quality level of Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5 has been found to be about 28 times higher in Raipur and the Chhattisgarh power hub Korba between November 2020 and June 2021, and it had reached "dangerous levels", experts said.
A report by the State Health Resource Center (SHRC), Chhattisgarh, released on Friday states that air samples from Raipur and Korba were alarming.
“The results of the ambient air samples from both cities show that the air quality has reached dangerous levels over a period of two years," said Punita Kumar, lead researcher of the study.
"The samples were undertaken between November 2020 and May 2021. It was the period of first and second wave of Covid-19 where total or partial lockdowns were imposed. Korba and Raipur continued to have dangerous air quality,” she said.
"The air sampling results of both cities show a worrying level of harmful substances like the presence of manganese, lead and nickel which are well known toxins and their effects on human health are well documented," she added.
"Manganese and lead are neurotoxins while nickel is a carcinogen. The finding of such high levels of toxic substances from the rooftops of human homes and health care facilities is a real cause for concern,” said Punita Kumar.
“There is an urgent need not only to take immediate steps to reduce the presence of such toxins in the air, but also to institute a comprehensive health survey to assess what damage has already been done.
"There is a need to institute follow up of the population for detecting long-term harm from the exposure till now. There is also a need to develop a plan for adequate care to those who have been so exposed,” added Dr. Samir Garg, Executive Director, SHRC.
“We are committed to strengthen our health facilities by providing the equipment to diagnose air pollution related health problems and well-trained health professionals to provide the support communities need," said Dr. Neeraj Kumar Bansod, Director, Directorate of Health Services, Chhattisgarh.