Chandigarh’s air quality at year’s worst on Diwali eve
Even before Diwali, the Air Quality Index (AQI) of the city shot up to 237 on Saturday, the worst this year, with conditions likely to deteriorate in the days following Diwali.
According to data from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) observatory in Sector 25, AQI of the city was recorded at 237 at 5 pm on Saturday.
A numerical scale used to measure day-to-day air quality, AQI between 200-300 leads to breathing discomfort on prolonged exposure.
Taking stock of the situation, TC Nautiyal, member secretary, Chandigarh Pollution Control Committee (CPCC), said air quality was poor due to various factors, including weather conditions such as inversion of temperature and lack of winds with pollution from motor vehicles and construction.
A cause for concern, he added, was the high level of PM 2.5 pollutant in the air, which is “directly absorbed into the bloodstream and can cause extensive damage to the respiratory system.”
Urging people to just decorate their homes with lights, he said even green crackers should be avoided as these released harmful gases into the atmosphere, albeit in a lower concentration.
Conditions are likely to improve next week, said Surender Paul, India Meteorological Department (IMD) director. “Easterly winds are active in the region which are low in intensity and laden with moisture. They keep the pollutants from dispersing. However, drier northwesterly winds of up to 20 kmph will start blowing in the city from next week onwards and will lower the AQI.”
On precautions to be followed for Diwali, Dr Ravindra Khaiwal, assistant professor of environment health at department of community medicine, School of Public Health, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, advised, “Avoid staying outside for too long and avoid exposure to smoke. People with pulmonary conditions must seek help as they can have trouble breathing. ”
In 2018, AQI had touched 311 after Diwali, while in 2017 it was recorded at 240.