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'SIPCOT industrial area air unfit to breathe'

ChennaiOnline

Chennai, May 9: The air over SIPCOT Chemical Industrial Estate at Cuddalore is unfit to breathe, with seven of the 12 toxic gases released by factories seriously violating one or more US standards for safe ambient air, according to a second study released today by the SIPCOT Area Community Environmental Monitors (SACEM).

The study said the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) was yet to take action to reverse this trend, despite the June 30, 2005 deadline set by the Supreme Court Monitoring Committee of Hazardous Waste order to screen the air quality at SIPCOT.

The first report, released in September 2004, had found 22 toxic chemicals, including raw materials used by industries at SIPCOT. The SCMC had then directed TNPCB to develop standards for ambient air for these chemicals.

SACEM claimed that their second study had found at least five out of 12 chemicals could be detrimental to the kidneys and liver, 10 could affect the respiratory system and central nervous system, while all 12 chemicals could affect the eyes.

SACEM demanded that TNPCB submit reports on steps taken to monitor and reverse air pollution with Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and sulphur compounds. The Central PCB should submit a progress report on developing ambient air quality standards for VOCs and sulphur compounds.

Action should be taken against TNPCB if air pollution levels were not brought under control by June 2005, as per SCMC's directions.

SACEM representatives, including M Nizamuddin and S Pugazhendi, who are SCMC members, said there are no Indian standards for measuring air quality after chemicals are released. TNPCB also does not have the technology to monitor air pollution, they added.

They said that the Tamil Nadu government had, like SACEM, conducted health studies in the area. SACEM's own study would be completed within two months, they added.

(Our Correspondent)

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