Bombay has a very high incidence of chronic respiratory problems, arising from extreme air pollution. The causes of pollution are mainly industries in the eastern suburbs and New Bombay, garbage burning by the BMC, and insufficient control over emission levels from vehicles.
Nightly burning of garbage at the 100 hectare Municipal Garbage Dump north of the Chembur-Vashi road affects Chembur, Ghatkopar, Mankhurd and New Bombay. Environmental Health Rights Organisation of India (EHROI) claims that the level of particulate matter around the dump is about 2000 microgrammes per cubic meter. WHO norms put an upper limit of 150. A recent study by the Environmental Pollution Research Centre (EPRC) found that about 10% of the population of Chembur suffer from bronchitis and respiratory distress caused by pollution. The study found that Sulphur dioxide levels have fallen in recent years, whereas nitrogen dioxide levels have risen.
The 22 air monitoring stations owned by the BMC carry out routine checks of nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and suspended particulate matter. Carbon mono-oxide levels are not monitored. A recent study by the EPRC found very high levels of this gas from traffic exhausts. The high-risk areas were found to be VT, Bhendi Bazar and Parel.
Located close to Thane-Belapur, the largest chemical industry zone in Asia, New Bombay is exposed to high levels of toxic and carcinogenic chemicals released by these industries. Studies conducted in 1974 had led the Central Public Health Engineering Research Institute to oppose the proposed location of New Bombay. However, CIDCO ignored this advice and proceeded with the development. In a representation to the National Human Rights Commission, it has been pointed out that several chemical factories flout regulations by releasing noxious gases clandestinely at night. The memorandum alleges that chemical industries have not made investements into effluent processing.