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Volatile organic compounds found in Baddi

Ambika Sharma
The Tribune

Solan, August 18

With the State Pollution Control Board failing to monitor the critical volatile organic compounds (VOCs), their presence in alarming proportions in the state’s industrial hub of Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh (BBN) has rung the alarm bells for environmentalists.

In a recent air sampling conducted by local environment action group Him Parivesh in association with Chennai-based Community Environment Monitoring (CEM), 11 noxious chemicals were detected in an area of 200 m north west of the Morepen Road near Baddi.

Four of the 11 chemicals detected exceeded the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 6 levels, which were standard safe levels in the air. These chemicals target the eyes, skin and respiratory system, central nervous system, liver, kidneys, reproductive system and even the cardiovascular system, blood, heart and the peripheral nervous system. With detection of two carcinogens the risk of locals acquiring cancer had risen as chloroform was detected 321 times and methyelene chloride was detected 6.8 above the safe limit.

Board’s Member Secretary Dr Nagin Nanda said as per the ambient air quality norms prescribed by the Central Pollution Control Board protocols for merely two VOCs were in the initial stage of being developed. Since a road map was being finalised after which guidelines would be issued to the states they had no mechanism to monitor these VOCs. As a beginning, only 16 cities would be covered for which an action plan was being prepared. Moreover, such testing was expensive and the US standards were not comparable to the Indian standards.

Mansi Asher, an activist of CEM, confided that Tedlar Air Sampling was used to collect the air samples. The location was chosen on the basis of the stench in the area. There was a strong odour in the air at the time of sampling.

"The odours caused hot flushes, eye burning, throat irritation and heaviness of head among the members," confided Balkrishna Sharma, general secretary, Him Parivesh, while releasing the report to the media today.

"The sample was tested in a US-based laboratory, Columbia Analytical Services, with which we have been working for some years now," said Shweta Narayan, an activist of the CEM. The results detected 11 types of chemicals in the air sample.

The report has exposed the ineffectiveness of the Pollution Control Board in checking and monitoring this kind of pollution.

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