People in Delhi continued to inhale “severe” air on Tuesday morning, a very dangerous marker in the air quality index (AQI) that could make even healthy adults sick.
The System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) said the AQI stood at 500+ for nearly all the stations it monitors in the capital.
The pollution level is classified as “severe” if the AQI is between 401 and 500. In China, such a situation is called “red alert”. Its continuance for three consecutive days calls for desperate measures like shutting down schools and offices, closing down industries and power plants and rationing of vehicles on roads.
According to Hindustan Times monitoring of pollution across Delhi, the city had the worst air quality in Punjabi Bagh, RK Puram, Shantipath and Anand Vihar with the AQI reaching 500.
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At 10am, Anand Vihar recorded PM10 (particulate matter 10 micrometers or less in diameter) of 793µg/m3 (microgram per cubic meter), while the PM2.5 clocked 472µg/m3.
The prescribed standards of PM 2.5 and PM 10 are 60 and 100 respectively. Anything beyond that can harm the respiratory system as the ultra-fine particulates can embed deep into the lungs and also enter the bloodstream.
The PM10 at Punjabi Bagh was 539µg/m3, while the PM2.5 was 417µg/m3. At Mandir Marg, it was 715 and 403, while at RK Puram it touched 602 and 339.
Diwali fireworks pushed pollution in Delhi to a dangerous level, the worst in three years. It turned the air highly toxic due to a deadly cocktail of harmful respirable pollutants and gases, engulfing the city with a cover of thick smog that triggered health alarms.
Various monitoring agencies, including Delhi Pollution Control Committee, Central Pollution Control Board and Centre for Science and Environment besides Pune-based SAFAR, were unanimous about the severity of the air quality in the city this Diwali.
The city of 20 million people, which ranks among the world’s top cities with foul air on a WHO list, has been struggling to clean its air that contains a toxic cocktail of dust, smoke and gases from vehicle, factory exhausts and coal-fired power stations.