The air quality in the national capital deteriorated to alarming levels on Wednesday, with the concentration of particulate matter going way above the permissible limits.
On Thursday, the concentration of particulate matter is further set to increase and touch “severe” levels, which, experts warned, will seriously affect people suffering from pulmonary diseases.
According to System of Air quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), Wednesday recorded the highest air quality index of the year so far.
Both particulate matter, PM2.5 and PM 10, levels remained severe at 295 microgram per cubic metre and 470 microgram per cubic metre (mpcm) respectively, much higher than the permissible limit of 60 and 100.
PM 10 is particulate matter between 2.5 to 10 cubic metre in diameter, that come from windblown dust, smog dirt, pollen and construction activities. PM 2.5 is smaller particles produced by vehicular emissions, high temperature combustion and heavy metals.
On Thursday, the concentration of pollutants in the air is expected to remain severe with PM 2.5 levels likely to be around 284 and PM 10 levels likely to hover around 450 mark.
The Central Pollution Control Board monitoring stations too found the air quality index in various parts of the city to be severe on Wednesday. At Punjabi Bagh, the air quality index was 483 mpcm, at RK Puram it was 481 mpcm and at Mandir Marg it was 442 mpcm.
Officials in the meteorology department said the spike in pollution levels was unusual during such weather conditions.
“This season is supposed to be the coldest and usually witnesses calm winds every year. The pollution started to increase from December 20, but the kind of jump seen from December 21- 23 is unusual. It is most likely being caused by a substantial increase in open bio-mass burning to combat the chill,” said Gurfan Beig, project director, SAFAR.
A dense fog cover and formation of smog could also be reasons for the increase in concentration of pollutants. “Visibility deteriorated to 500m at IGI airport around 7pm on Wednesday. This spell of fog will intensify and visibility is expected to drop below 50m between 5:30am-8:30am on December 24. However, the fog may not last long as strong winds are expected either on Thursday or on December 25 morning,” said RK Jenamani, head Met officer at IGI airport.