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Air Pollution in Tamil Nadu is a Cause of Concern for Environmentalists

Environmental agencies in Tamil Nadu are demanding monitoring stations in heavily industrialised pockets after a study found air samples //from the state among the most polluted in India.

The groups have urged the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board to apply for central funds to set up volatile organic compounds (VOC) and sulphur gas monitoring stations in Manali, Mettur, Cuddalore, Tuticorin and other industrialised areas.

The demand came after two samples from Tamil Nadu, out of 21 air samples taken from various parts of India, were found to be among three most-polluted in a first-of-its-kind national study of toxic gases in ambient air.

The study, 'Smoke Screen - Ambient Air Quality in India', was released here by Magsaysay award winner V. Shantha of the Cancer Institute.

The samples were taken with the help of a 'Bucket' - a low-cost air sampling tool that contains a special plastic bag housed within a bucket. The bag serves as a container for the air sample, and is detached after the sample is taken and couriered to a laboratory in California.

'The Bucket results confirm that many communities in Tamil Nadu are living in a slow-motion Bhopal. For years, the Pollution Control Board and the government have ignored complaints about nasty odours and health problems,' said M. Nizamudeen, who works with Federation of Consumer Organisations of Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry (FEDCOT), an NGO.

'We hope that the new government will be more responsive to people's problems and utilise the fact that they (DMK) control the environment ministry at the centre to speed up the standards setting process and strengthen enforcement,' said Nizamudeen, referring to the DMK-led government that took office last month.

An air sample from the open garbage burning site in Perungudi, on the city's outskirts and positioned along the much-hyped IT corridor, contained the highest number of chemicals found in any
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