Asthma patients had a tough time this Diwali, with levels of the toxic sulphur dioxide reaching a new high. Overall, there was little respite from pollution, which has become a yearly feature every year, over last year on this day.
Amid widespread use of fire crackers on Sunday night, the pollutant sulphur dioxide peaked to 114 microgramme per cubic meter — 1.4 times the safe limit. Its maximum impact was seen in Punjabi Bagh, a dense residential area.
“This shows that more crackers with higher sulphur compounds were burnt. Some of the most notorious instances of smog, like the London Smog that had killed 4,000 people in 1952, had high levels of sulphur dioxide along with extremely fine particles,” said Anumita Roychowdhury, an expert at the Centre for Science and Environment.
The Central Pollution Control Board said noise levels at the Netaji Subhas Institute of Technology, CPCB, Delhi College of Engineering and Dilshad Garden were recorded as 58dB, 62dB, 52dB and 56dB. Last year, the figures for the spots were 56dB, 58dB, 50dB and 49dB, showing that noise pollution levels rose year-on-year on Sunday.
This Diwali, the SO2 range was 35-114 microgramme per cubic metre. Last Diwali, it was 20-88 microgramme per cubic metre. Both minimum and maximum levels have increased this year.
“SO2 is a poisonous gas, an increase of which can lead to extreme breathlessness. It is especially harmful for those with chronic lung diseases like asthmatic patients,” Dr Praveen Pandey of Max Super Speciality Hospital, Patparganj, said.
The increase in minimum levels indicates that pollution was widespread in the city and also high. The peak can vary according to meteorological conditions as well.
“A lot more public awareness and control methods are needed to make a significant impact,” Roychowdhury said.
The Delhi Pollution Control Committee chief, Sandeep Mishra, however, saw a few positives.
“Nitrogen dioxide range is similar to 2012. Peak levels for fine particles (with sizes of 10/2.5 microns or less) have come down. The range of carbon monoxide levels is also lower than last year.”
The DPCC conducted air-quality monitoring at six locations — RK Puram, Mandir Marg, Punjabi Bagh, Anand Vihar, Civil Lines and IGI Airport.