A two-month-long extensive air quality monitoring study which was conducted by city-based NGO Centre for Sustainable Development (CFSD), Nagpur revealed that the Bhandewadi Dump Yard dumping ground was substantially contaminating the air.
Residents living in close proximity to the dumping ground are exposed to hazardous air for 24 hours a day.
Located at a distance of 10 km from city Bhandewadi is the only dumpsite for Nagpur. It is spread over an area of 77 acres of which 52 acres is used for dumping garbage while the remaining 25 acres is for the sewage treatment plant.
The report “Air Quality Monitoring Nagpur” released on Tuesday found that the concentration of particulate matter (PM2.5) was twice as high as the national safety standards set by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) while it was almost 8 times higher than the World Health Organisation (WHO) revised standards in October last year.
“There has been a persistent problem of air pollution emerging from the Bhandewadi Dump Yard. The health and safety of local residents, as well as the future generations, are at risk,” said Leena Buddhe, Founder, CFSD.
The only continuous ambient air quality monitoring station (CAAQMS) within the city is located 10 km away from the dump yard. “We were informed that the smoke produced leads to breathing discomfort and other respiratory ailments, especially among the kids and the elderly people. Since there are no air monitoring stations in this area, we undertook this two-month-long air quality monitoring exercise,” said Buddhe.
Against the CPCB standard of 60 micrograms per cubic meter (μg/m3) for 24-hours, the average daily PM2.5 concentration from December 4, 2021 to January 31, 2022 was 115.63 μg/m3. This was recorded across two monitors installed at Bhandewadi dump yard gate and Vaishno Devi layout, located 1.5 km away from the dump yard. The average reading was approximately 7.7 times higher than the WHO standard of 15 μg/m3.
The analysis of PM2.5 data was independently assessed by Sakshi Rajabhoj from Asar, environmental research and communications think tank.
Buddhe said, “The entire Solid Waste Management for Nagpur was flawed as mixed waste without any segregation and treatment was being dumped at Bhandewadi and frequent fires caused at the site led to release of toxic gasses from decomposing garbage and other waste.” She also blamed this for deteriorating the air quality as well as leading to serious health concerns for those living in the vicinity and those employed inside the dumping ground.
“In children and adults, both short- and long-term exposure to PM2.5 from the Bhandewadi dumpsite can lead to reduced lung function, respiratory infections and aggravated asthma. Maternal exposure is associated with adverse birth outcomes, such as low birth weight, pre-term birth and small gestational age births. Emerging evidence also suggests ambient air pollution may affect diabetes and neurological development in children,” said interventional pulmonologist Dr Sameer Arbat adding that the Nagpur Municipal Corporation should take this matter seriously and devise plans to minimise air pollution using effective methods
Arbat added that most of the disease burden is borne by low- and middle-income groups as well as poor and marginalized communities living around such highly polluted places.
CFSD made recommendations in order to control air pollution within the region include CAAQMS in Bhandewadi, and the data should be made publicly available.
“There is a need to implement better waste management practices for the entire city, with an emphasis on waste segregation. Waste processing should be taken up on a priority basis and a Material Recovery Facility needs to be set up, and the wet waste must be composted,” states the study. The study revealed that the area around the Bhandewadi dump yard witnessed “bad air days” for the entire period of monitoring.