Pune: PMC installs artificial lungs to highlight harmful effects of air pollution

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To raise awareness about the harmful impact of air pollution on lungs, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) in partnership with a city-based NGO, Parisar, has installed a pair of artificial lungs on a billboard outside Sambhaji Garden on JM Road.

The lungs are made up of a white filter medium and a pair of fans have been affixed at the back of the billboard to suck in air mimicking the functioning of lungs while breathing. The installation has been named ‘My Right to Clean Air’ and it was inaugurated by Mayor Murlidhar Mohol on Monday.

Over the next few days and weeks, the filters will start trapping particulate matter from different sources. Over time, the lungs will change colour – from chalk white to brown to black. The billboard is also fitted with a digital air quality monitor that will record and display the real-time Air Quality Index (AQI).

Mohol urged residents to visit the billboard and called the installation a great initiative to kickstart action for air quality improvement.

“We have been working on air pollution for many years now, and one of the major hurdles in improving air quality is that there is very little awareness about the issue. Pune has witnessed a steep increase of 70% and 61% in PM2.5 and PM10 levels, respectively, over six years (between 2012-13 and 2019-20). And yet, the average Punekar seems unaware of this looming health hazard” Sharmila Deo from Parisar said.

The latest emission inventory by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune revealed that the transport sector contributed 87.9% to PM10 and 91% to PM2.5 levels; the industrial sector contributed 33.8% to PM10 and 32.9% to PM2.5; the residential sector contributed 107.7% to PM10 and 57.9% to PM2.5, while the wind-blown re-suspended dust contributed 49.5% to PM10 and 38.1% to PM2.5.

Dr Swapnil Kulkarni, Consultant Pulmonologist and Director of Birth and Breath Clinic, said that air pollution has serious health implications ranging from respiratory disorders to chronic disorders like blood pressure, heart disease and different kinds of cancers, too.

Additional Commissioner Dr Kunal Khemnar said that the civic body is actively working to improve air quality. “Along with converting PMC vehicles to electric ones, we are also planning to increase charging stations so that people can use electric vehicles. Procuring electric buses is also on the agenda,” he said.

Parisar also released a film on the health impacts of air pollution during the programme. Elected representatives from the area would be invited to take a look at the billboard, so that they also realise the harmful effects of air pollution and take action to remedy the situation.

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