Delhi’s air quality very poor

September 18, 2015 12:00 am | Updated December 04, 2021 11:33 pm IST

The air quality of Delhi over the past one week has worsened from moderate and poor to very poor. Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5 and 10 remain the major pollutants.

The National Air Quality Index shows the figure reaching an alarming 391 (showing the high level of PM 10) at stations like Anand Vihar around 6:30 p.m. on Thursday. It was 389 at 4 p.m.

PM 2.5 was also as high as 213 microgram per cubic metre. The annual average standard of particulate matter and the standard limit is 60 microgram per cubic metre.

The current high level can cause respiratory illness on prolonged exposure. The air quality at Anand Vihar is hardly seven notches away from ‘severe’ level, which can even affect healthy people. The AQI there on Wednesday was 280, which falls in ‘poor’ category and can cause breathing discomfort on prolonged exposure.

At NSIT Dwarka, the AQI was 301 with ozone being the prominent pollutant. The U.S. Mission in India used its own air quality data algorithm and on Thursday rated the quality at the embassy as ‘unhealthy’.

According to the Union Ministry of Earth Science’s SAFAR-India index, Friday is expected to have ‘poor’ air quality. As per the forecast at 8 p.m. on Thursday, PM 10 level will be 173 microgram per cubic metre and PM 2.5 will be 115 mg/cu.m.

A Meteorological Department official said the pollution level would go down if it rained.

“There is possibility of rain on Friday and Saturday. If that happens, the air quality will improve,” said the official.

With the humidity in the air, pollutants don’t evaporate so fast, leading to respiratory illnesses, said Dr. Anil Bansal, a member of the Delhi Medical Council. “Apart from breathing troubles for asthma and heart patients, there is viral fever and skin illnesses this season as it’s neither too hot nor too cold and there is a lot of moisture in the air,” said Dr. Bansal.

It was in 2000 that the PM 10 level had reached 191 microgram per cubic metre. It declined to 150 in 2001 to again register an increase and kept fluctuating. However, after 2008, when its concentration on Delhi’s air reached 201 microgram per cubic metre, the level of this pollutant increased reaching an alarming 318 microgram per cubic metre in 2014.

The increasing trend comes at a time when the governments have been buying time from the National Green Tribunal for almost a year now to implement its directions to check pollution.

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