Delhi woke up to a foggy morning and high levels of air pollution as the minimum temperature was recorded at 15 degrees Celsius on Saturday.
Data from the Hindustan Times air quality map showed that the air quality index had peaked -- touching the maximum limit of 500 -- in areas such as Anand Vihar, Punjabi Bagh and Shadipur.
Air pollution level is classified as severe if the AQI is between 401 and 500. China declares a ‘red alert’ if air quality plunges to this level. If the alarming pollution levels continue for three consecutive days, China facilitates measures such as shutting down schools and offices, closing down industries and power plants and road rationing of vehicles.
Anand Vihar was possibly the most polluted area in Delhi at 10am on Saturday morning, as particulate matter levels (PM10 was 552µg/m³ and PM2.5 -- 443µg/m³) soared.
PM10 and PM2.5 are minute particulates that penetrate the lungs and cause breathing ailments
The permissible level of PM10 is 100 micrograms/cubic metre and 60 for PM2.5.
Punjabi Bagh (494µg/m³) and Shadipur (571µg/m³) also recorded high levels of PM2.5.
Air quality levels plunged in other areas such as Mandir Marg (484) and Shanti Path (408) on Saturday.
The dip in the air quality has primarily been caused by an increase in traffic due to Diwali, decreasing temperatures and a lack of winds. Low wind speed settles pollution particles on the surface instead of blowing them away.
Pune’s System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research had said in its Diwali forecast that if the current weather conditions prevail, the share of PM2.5 would increase by up to 20%.
According to the analysis, winds are likely to turn easterly during Diwali. This phenomenon, along with falling mercury, is likely to make the air quality in the capital worse.
An official from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the sky will remain clear for the rest of the day. The maximum temperature is likely to hover around 32 degree Celsius.
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