Soon, people of Baroda (Gujarat) may be able to breathe easy. The pollution maps of the city, based on GIS and GPS, which show severity of pollution and types of pathogens present in the air are being developed. They can help town planners create an environment-friendly urban design.
Drawn by the Environmental Science Department of MSU’s Science Faculty, the maps show pockets of high pollution along the city’s traffic nodes and arteries. It also shows variation in pollution level over a period of 24 hours. In addition, the maps indicate microbial activity across the city. It also shows the types of infection- or allergy-causing bacteria that Barodians inhale.
The maps are an offshoot of an Environmental Science Department project that was carried out in association with the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) in 2003. A project had been conducted on monitoring the ambient air quality in the city. When the data was collected, interesting patterns had emerged on interpolating the pollution figures on a Vadodara map. This led to the creation of the GIS-GPS maps.
The department had monitored pollutants like Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM), methane, nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide and total hydrocarbon content at 27 locations in and around Vadodara. According to the study, almost all pollutants were above permissible limits. As a corollary to the data collection, the department also carried out microbiological studies at 16 spots, giving holistic information about the type and severity of pollution in the city.
The maps can be used to determine how much a new road would add to the level of pollution in the area. Work has been initiated to get together an inter-disciplinary group drawn from urban planning experts, doctors and industry that could help broaden the base of the maps by making further studies.