India’s first air quality checking Mobile App SAFAR-Air launched
SAFAR is an acronym for System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research which was first launched in Delhi in 2010 during the Commonwealth Games.
India’s first air quality checking Mobile App, SAFAR-Air was launched on 17 February 2015 at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology in Pune, Maharashtra.
SAFAR is an acronym for System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research which was first launched in Delhi in 2010 during the Commonwealth Games. The Project Director of SAFAR is Gufran Beig.
The App was launched by Union Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) to provide online metro Air Quality information Service in real time.
At present the App service is available only for Pune and Delhi city and it will be available in Mumbai by May 2015.By 2017 the forecasting services will be extended to cover Chennai and Kolkata.
The system is jointly run by the IITM and the India Meteorology Department (IMD) and the forecasting model is running on a supercomputer in IITM called Aditya.
Characteristic Features of SAFAR-Air
• SAFAR-Air is the first mobile application service in India to provide a current and advanced forecast for air quality.
• The application was developed by scientists at Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune. It will enable citizens to check their city’s air quality in real time.
• The app will provide current data and a forecast for air quality in the user’s current location through a colour-coded system- green is good, yellow is moderately polluted, orange is poor, red is very poor and maroon is critical.
• The app will initially be available on smartphones operating on Google's Android system and later on devices using Apple's iOS.
• Users can also share the information from the app on Twitter, Facebook, and by email.
• It will aid in enhancing the awareness of the hazards of air pollution and will also aid the policy makers to adopt practical city-level measures to address air pollution.
Air Quality in India
The air quality in Indian metro cities, partcularly Delhi, is worsening day-by-day leading to increasing number of morbidity related to poor air quality. According to World Health Organisation (WHO), 1.9 million people in India die every year due to air pollution.
In a study published by the WHO in May 2014 and by Yale University in February 2014, the air in New Delhi was the most polluted in India and in the world.
The incidence of particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter was the highest between November 2014 and January 2015 in New Delhi since 2010. On an annual average over the five years, PM 2.5 pollution was around 100, while this year it was 114, as compared to 101 in 2013 and 98 in 2012.
What are Particulate Matters?
Particulate matter (PM) includes sulfates, nitrates, ammonia, sodium chloride, black carbon, mineral dust and water. These are considered the most dangerous air pollutants. These can settle deep inside the lungs, making people vulnerable to cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, as well as lung cancer.
According to WHO, the most health-damaging particles are those with a diameter of 10 microns or less, which can penetrate and lodge deep inside the lungs.