On a day that Beijing declared its first ever air pollution red alert, Delhi surpassed its Chinese counterpart. No red alerts, however, will be issued anytime soon.
Four stations in Delhi, Anand Vihar, Mandir Marg, RK Puram and Punjabi Bagh recorded a severe warning with the air pollution values for these on the National Air Quality Index being recorded above 400 (out of a maximum of 500). This carries a severe warning. At Anand Vihar, the Particulate Matter 10 concentration at 8 pm on Monday was 1,903 migrogramme per cubic metre. This is 19 times more than the prescribed limit.
According to experts, the air quality is expected to be in the same range for the next three days.
On Monday, Beijing ordered schools to close down and all outdoor construction activity to stop as its air quality figures touched 256 at around 8pm. Delhi, at 8pm, recorded a reading of 286. (Source: US Embassy air quality index).
System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR) stations in Delhi University, IGI Airport, Dhirpur also had ‘severe’ Air Quality Index (AQI), bordering 450 in most cases. The 24-hour average of PM 2.5 and PM 10 were 197 and 330 micrograms per cubic metre respectively.
Permissible levels of PM (particulate matter) 2.5 and PM 10 are 60 and 100 micrograms per cubic metre respectively and consistent exposure to anything beyond that can harm the respiratory system as the particles embed themselves deep inside the lungs.