Gurgaon to Delhi and back: An office-goer’s account of driving in polluted air

Checking pollution levels in various parts of Delhi-NCR on your daily commute can worry you sick. For most part of the day, the AQI ranges between 400-600 that calls for emergency measures

delhi Updated: Nov 09, 2017 18:24 IST
Ambrish Bajaj
Ambrish Bajaj
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Delhi Pollution,Air Quality Index,Gurgaon Pollution
A man wears a mask to protect himself from pollution as he crosses a divider on a road in Delhi on November 9. (AFP)

Severe air pollution is all around us. Like many other people who live in Delhi or the National Capital Region (NCR), I too am affected by one of the worst smogs in recent times that has engulfed us.

When I speak to people near my house, some say they are worried about the foul air but others couldn’t care less. If I advise them to wear a mask or get an air purifier at home (both of which they can easily afford), they simply are not interested.

Now let’s talk about how scary the pollution scenario is. One of the most dangerous pollutants is Particulate Matter 2.5 (PM 2.5), suspended particles in air measuring 2.5 micron and below (1 micron = 1 millionth of a metre). PM 2.5 is dangerous because it easily passes through our body’s natural filters and sinks into our lungs and tracts.

For the last few days, we have consistently witnessed the Air Quality Index (AQI) never going below the 300-400 levels. For most part of the day, the AQI ranges between 400-600. Look at, as example, the average AQI for the last seven days, as recorded by Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB) monitor at HSPCB, Gurugram.

The minimum average reading it has shows in last seven days is 335, which classifies as ‘Very Poor’ as per Hindustan Times’ Air Quality Map, which aggregates data from various sources including CPCB.

I wanted to check pollution levels in various part of Delhi-NCR for the past few days. I drive everyday from Sector 15 in Gurugram to Hindustan Times office on KG Marg in cental Delhi for work. On my way to office, I drop my wife at her workplace on Lodhi Road.

To check air quality, I bought a reasonably good AQ monitor. And on Thursday in my morning drive to work, I carried the AQ monitor along. During my route of about 1.5 hour, I stopped my car at six key points to check PM 2.5 levels. The result of this tracking reinforced the worries about the grave situation we are going through. The highlights of data points taken taken at various locations are as follows:

1. PM 2.5 never dropped below 600. Such levels are classified as “Severe”

2. PM 2.5 almost consistently increased driving from Gurugram to New Delhi.

3.The lowest reading just outside my residence in Sector 15, Gurugram was 606 and the highest reading was 766 at KG Marg, New Delhi.

4. The readings across six locations were:

PM 2.5 readings in Delhi and Gurgaon

This my experience of tracking pollution along my office route. Do you share your experience of pollution in Delhi @httweets on Twitter.

(Ambrish Bajaj is product head at hindustantimes.com)

First Published: Nov 09, 2017 15:30 IST