Increasing black carbon level in air paints a dark picture

Srinagar: The continuous dry spell in Kashmir comes with additional costs of added air pollution as the increased ‘Black Carbon’ particles in air have worsened the matters here.

The longest dry spell, which ended during last week after 5 months, had led the scale of Black Carbon pollutants go up manifolds, however, it once again came down after a brief drizzle.

“Dry spells come with many other effects, and the most important is the increase in air pollution, which leads to various health hazards,” said Deputy Director, Meteorological Station Srinagar, Mukhtar Ahmad.

Data analysis has shown that there is a steep increase of Black Carbons in the atmosphere during dry spells, he informed.

“The data pertaining to the air pollution that we have gathered during the dry spell suggests 50 per cent increase in the pollutants in the air, particularly Black Carbons which are disastrous for humans as well as for the vegetation around,” he said. The Black Carbons are emitted in the atmosphere from the combustion of fuel and particularly the burning of leaves in the winter, apart from this, he said the main sources of emission of carbons are the construction sites.

“The absence of large scale industries in Kashmir is helping our cause to a great extent as the pollution level does not exceed alarmingly,” he added.

“The amount of emission is still low, in comparison to other cities like Delhi, but given the fragility of the environment here, even the small amount of carbon emission is disastrous,” said Mukhtar Ahmad.

“If there would have been presence of industries, the situation would have been uglier,” he warned. 

Due to dry spells, the pollutants get suspended in the atmosphere, thus polluting the air and leading to respiratory ailments, with decrease in visibility also.

The official at Meteorological Department had predicted another week of dry spell from Sunday this week, however, the officials posted there said that due to the change in climatic conditions, the scenario has once again changed and there is possibility of isolated rainfall from 25 till 29 November, with light to moderate snowfall in upper reaches.

Predicting that there are chances of more dry spells in the near future, the Deputy Director said that climatic conditions are changing drastically, “we had predicted a brief dry spell from Sunday, but the conditions changed suddenly,” adding “we had predicted this as per the climatic system that was studied, but it turned out to be the opposite, leading us to conclude that this time around the weather conditions will be considerably drifting away from the normal.”

Ironically, apart from the Black Carbons various other pollutants are making the environs more polluted and their concentration increases during the dry spell.

But the Meteorological station at Srinagar is equipped to measure the concentration of Black Carbons only, leaving rest of the pollutants unmeasured.

While advising people not to burn leaves during winter, or in any season for that matter, Deputy Director, Meteorological Station said “people should avoid burning leaves, as it is also the cause of adding black carbon concentration into the atmosphere, rather leaves should be dumped which will ultimately lead to their decomposition.”

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