Wind helps improve air quality

Pollution level may dip further over the next few days, says monitoring agency

November 03, 2019 01:32 am | Updated 01:32 am IST - New Delhi

Shades of grey:  A train crossing a bridge over the Yamuna in Delhi on Saturday.

Shades of grey: A train crossing a bridge over the Yamuna in Delhi on Saturday.

The national capital remained under a thick blanket of smog on Saturday, even as the air quality improved slightly due to an increase in wind speed and dip in stubble burning in neighbouring States.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) of Delhi was 399 (very poor) on Saturday, down from 484 (severe) on Friday, according to the 4 p.m. bulletin by the Central Pollution Control Board, which gives an average of the past 24 hours. The air quality was back in ‘severe’ category with an AQI of 404 at 8.30 p.m. on Saturday.

The level of deadly respirable particles PM2.5 was almost seven times (418 ug/m3) the safe limit (60 ug/m3) at 6 p.m. ‘Severe’ air quality can cause respiratory problems in even healthy people and has a serious health impact on those suffering from lung or heart diseases.

Pollution level is expected to dip further on Sunday and the AQI may show more improvement on Monday when the Delhi government will implement its odd-even vehicle rationing scheme, said the government-run monitoring agency SAFAR (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research). The car rationing scheme will run till November 15. The rule will be applicable in Delhi from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., except on Sundays.

On Saturday, stubble burning in neighbouring States accounted for roughly 17% pollution in the Capital, down from 38% on Friday and 44% on Thursday, said SAFAR. “Drastic reduction was recorded in effective stubble fire counts (268) over Haryana and Punjab during the last 24 hours, after touching a peak value of 3,178 on October 31,” the agency said.

On Friday, a public health emergency was declared in the Capital as pollution levels entered the ‘severe plus’ category. The PM10 level had reached 504 ug/m3 at 3.30 a.m., around five times more than the safe limit of 100 ug/m3. On Saturday at 4 a.m., PM10 level was 494.3 ug/m3.

Meanwhile, all schools in the Capital will remain shut till November 5, as announced by the Delhi government on Friday.

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