04 June, 2006
New Delhi, June 4. (PTI): Millions of Indians are being exposed to high levels of poisonous gases, including cancer-causing volatile organic compounds and sulphur fumes, and the country lacks the mechanism to monitor or regulate these toxins, according to a report relased here on Saturday.
Titled ‘Smokescreen: Ambient Air Quality in India,’ the report by the Chennai-based Community Environmental Monitoring lists out 45 toxic chemicals, that were found in ambient air samples taken from 13 different locations in the country during 2004-06.
Out of these, the toxic levels of 28 chemicals were found at upto 32,000 times higher than levels fixed, as safe in residential areas by the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA).
The report also said that in the busy traffic intersection at ITO in the National Capital, 18 toxic chemicals were found from the air samples, of which cancer-causing benzene was recorded at 104 times higher than safe levels.
Releasing the report, Sunita Narain, Director, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said India lacked the mechanism to monitor and regulate toxic gases in ambient air and hoped the report will act as an “alarm bell” to set standards in this regard at the earliest.
“After a study by a Cuddalore-based NGO in 2004, the Supreme Court Monitoring Committee on Hazardous Wastes had asked the Central Pollution Control Board to lay down standards for Volatile Organic Compounds and sulphur gases,” Shweta Narayan of Community Environment Monitoring said.
She alleged that nothing has been done in this regard even after six years.