Doctors advise people to stay indoors

Delhi is engulfed in what experts are calling “pure dust” which when coated with toxic substances from other combustion sources — vehicles, industry, solid waste and biomass burning in urban environment — is virtually chocking city dwellers.

The air quality in the Capital remained beyond the “severe” level for the third day on Thursday, as authorities advised people to avoid staying outdoors for long hours.

The PM10 levels rose by 248% and PM2.5 by 110% on June 12 with the onset of the dust storm. Real time instantaneous levels are staggering at 2,000-3,000 microgram per cubic metre. With this rising plume of dust, the tinier PM2.5 particles have also reached the ‘very poor’ level.

More than 50% of stations have recorded more than 1,500 microgramme per cubic metre of PM10 levels which is more than 15 times the national 24-hour average standard.

Since June 12, a large part of northern India has been engulfed in a massive haze of dust. Online air quality monitors of Delhi Pollution Control Committee in Delhi show huge escalation of particulate levels.

“Larger particle size of 10 microns (PM10) that are highly impacted by dust, show an increase of eight to nine times over the permissible level. Data from 19 air quality monitoring stations of Delhi show a sudden spike in particulate levels during the dust storm days. The average PM10 levels on June 11 were standard, i.e., 2.3 times which rose to eight times on June 12 and 15 times on June 13,” noted a release issued by the Centre for Science and Education.

“Dust pollution is a major concern because dust can cause several diseases in humans ranging from minor allergies to fatal lung and heart diseases. This is because dust particles can be as tiny as a few micrometres, small enough to enter our respiratory system via our nose,” said Vikramjeet Singh, senior consultant internal medicine, Aakash Healthcare Super Speciality Hospital.

Planting trees

Doctors have advised staying indoors and recommended wearing masks when going out. To reduce dust pollution, planting trees is the best method as plants hold soil together, preventing them from flying into the air. Other methods include, reducing construction and mining activities near residential areas. Taking public transport or carpooling to reduce the number of cars on the roads is another way of containing dust pollution.

R.K. Singal, director, internal medicine, BLK Super Speciality Hospital said, “The type and size of a dust particle determines how toxic the dust is. However, the possible harm the dust may cause to your health is mostly determined by the amount of dust present in the air and how long you have been exposed to it.”

He added that for people with respiratory conditions like asthma, chronic obstructive airways disease (COAD) or emphysema even small increases in dust concentration can make their symptoms worse.

Several studies in Delhi and the National Capital Region have found the chemical signature of different pollution sources in dust particles. Studies in Delhi by several agencies have looked for a wide variety of elements and toxic compounds in dust that show the impact of industrial activities like metal processing or vehicular pollution.

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Printable version | Nov 27, 2021 1:47:19 PM |

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