Schools shut in Sri Lanka due to air pollution

Colombo, Dec 9 (EFE).- The Sri Lankan government on Friday ordered all schools in the country to close due to the high levels of air pollution, worsened by India’s climatic conditions.

The order was issued by Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Education, upon recommendation of the Department of Meteorology and the Disaster Management Center, authorities said.

The sudden decline in air quality all over the country was caused by low-pressure conditions southeast of the Bay of Bengal, among other climatic conditions, which have brought air current from India.

Apart from Colombo, the National Building Research Organisation (NBRO) also issued an alert for the cities of Battaramulla and Mannar after they registered PM2.5 – particles with a diameter of less than 2.5 microns that are very harmful to health – levels of 114 and 117 micrograms per cubic meter, respectively.

PM 2.5 is considered to be the most harmful to humans since it is small enough to enter the blood stream through the lungs.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that maximum daily exposure of PM2.5 should be less than 15 micrograms per cubic meter.

“In many parts of the island, the level of fine particles (PM2.5) in the atmosphere is higher than the stipulated standard levels, and as a result, the transparency of the atmosphere has decreased to a certain extent,” NBRO wrote in the alert.

“Due to the cyclonic conditions that have occurred, the wind direction has changed and air pollutants (Particulate Matter) are entering Sri Lanka’s atmosphere with the winds coming towards Sri Lanka through the Indian subcontinent,” it added.

However, NBRO Air Quality Coordinator H.D.S Premasiri told EFE that the situation has improved to a large extent, and that the situation “is not as bad as we anticipated previously.”

The island’s government has advised people to use masks in order to minimize the harm caused by pollution, mainly affecting the Western, Central, North Central and North Western provinces of the country.

South Asia is among the most polluted regions of the planet, with four of its cities – Lahore and Karachi in Pakistan and Kolkata and New Delhi in India – currently among those with the worst air quality in the world. EFE


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