Alarming levels of toxic heavy metals found in Delhi-NCR’s air in November-December: Study

Four monitoring locations were picked in Gurugram and three in Delhi’s Safdarjung Enclave. All samples were taken from open balconies of residential homes.
High levels of Barium — that is usually found in fireworks — were also detected in all the three samples that were collected a day before, on the day and a day after the festival of Diwali in Delhi.(PTI File)
High levels of Barium — that is usually found in fireworks — were also detected in all the three samples that were collected a day before, on the day and a day after the festival of Diwali in Delhi.(PTI File)
Updated on Jan 18, 2019 01:44 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By

The samples of air taken for a study from Delhi and Gurugram in November and December 2018 reveal presence of alarming levels of toxic heavy metals, including carcinogens such as Nickel.

The metals detected in the seven samples included manganese, nickel and lead along with excess of Particulate Matter 2.5 (PM2.5) that is known to cause serious short-term to long-term health impact, including damage to the brain.

The study titled “Death in Every Breath” was released by Lung Care Foundation.

Environmental experts, however, say that the study lacked scale.

Four monitoring locations were picked in Gurugram and three in Delhi’s Safdarjung Enclave. All samples were taken from open balconies of residential homes.

High levels of Barium — that is usually found in fireworks — were also detected in all the three samples that were collected a day before, on the day and a day after the festival of Diwali in Delhi.

The Barium level in the sample a day before Diwali was 21.5 μg/ m3, on the day of Diwali was 5.8 μg/m3, and a day after was 2.4 μg/ m3, which is high when compared to the permissible limit of <0.05 μg/m3.

Three levels of PM2.5 detected in the Delhi air were under “hazardous” limits capable of triggering a health warning of emergency conditions.

“Children are particularly vulnerable as all these metals are known neurotoxins and nervous systems of children are still developing and are hence are more susceptible to the effect of poison that these metals are,” said Arvind Kumar, founder, Lung Care Foundation.

A professor of environmental science at IIT-Delhi, requesting anonymity, however, said, “The sample size is too small, and the method and type of data collected is insufficient to draw the correlation that the study seems to hint at.”

“While there is certainly a probability in what they are saying, there is no attempt to gather evidence in the form of long-term data. There is no hypothesis, it is merely observational,” he said.

Dr Arvind Kumar, says, “It was a pilot study; now that we have the results, we will plan to do at more places and different cities.

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