Watch: How Clean Is The Air Around Kolkata’s Hospitals?

We went around hospitals in the city to check if the air quality was “safe” according to WHO’s standards.

2 min read

The Quint DAILY

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Kolkata’s air quality has been dismal all through winter, with the city being declared the world’s most polluted on 16 January 2018, as per American Consulate data. Even according to the government’s own data, the Air Quality Index in the city has been above “Hazardous” level during the first 15 days of the year.

Kolkata Mayor Sovan Chatterjee has, however, called reports of high pollution levels in the city an attempt to “tarnish its image”, stating further that the air was completely safe to breathe.


The Quint, with a team of experts, visited some of the biggest private and government hospitals in the city to measure the ambient air quality levels around these facilities.

The World Health Organisation has recommended that particulate pollutant PM 2.5 and PM 10 around health centres should be 20 and 50 micrograms per cubic metres respectively. Their permissible limits according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) is 60 and 100 micrograms per cubic metre.

Our pollution sensor, developed by Raja Ghosh, an instrumentation scientist, measured levels of both these pollutants.

We conducted our survey around the hospitals on a day which was sunny, a holiday, and with less vehicular movement – ideal conditions for good air quality, said our experts. However, air quality in most places was five times worse than WHO standards and over 1.5-2 times worse than CPCB standards.


It was assessed that high levels of construction activity and vehicular pollution around the hospitals were the reason for these alarming figures. Even around hospitals with abundant open space, pollution levels were equally high.

“This survey gave us a very good sense about changes that should be made in hospital siting policy, ie where hospitals should be built,” said Anupam Debsarkar, one of our experts and a professor at Jadavpur University. “Hospitals must increase green cover around their premises and sprinkle water in order to allow dust particles to settle and lessen particulate matter levels,” he added.


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