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No relief from toxic mix of pollutants until Sunday

Delhiites can’t seem to catch a break when it comes to air quality. The city, which has been seeing “severe” pollution warnings since late last week, may get some relief only on Sunday when strong winds are expected to blow away the toxic mix of pollutants.

Dr. Gufran Beig, the chief project scientist of the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting (SAFAR-India), said Delhi will have to endure poor air quality till Saturday. “Sunday will be better because of good wind speed, which will clear the air. The level of PM2.5 – which is among the most harmful polluters – has remained high and within the severe and very poor category,” said Dr. Beig.

He added that the worst-hit places include Delhi University’s South Campus and Noida. Dr. Beig explained that the poor air quality can be attributed to high moisture content in the air and reduced temperature, which is causing heavy fog in the morning and evening.

According to Dr. Beig, the city fared between poor and very poor for other pollutants, including Ozone levels and PM10.

“But it is PM2.5 that is currently known to cause the maximum harm. After Diwali, it has been tough for Delhiites who have had to battle poor air quality for a long duration of time,” Dr. Beig said.

The levels of the dangerous fine particles, PM2.5, peaked at 440 micrograms per cubic metre on Wednesday, 7 p.m., at the Anand Vihar monitoring centre. That is over seven times the standard of 60 micrograms per cubic metre.

The air quality was slightly better on Wednesday as the wind helped in dispersing pollutants, but the situation this winter appears to be bleak – even the Delhi government has admitted.

“The air quality is unlikely to improve much this season due to the atmospheric conditions that make it difficult for pollutants to be dispersed,” said Ashwani Kumar, Secretary, Environment and Forest Department.

The level of benzene in the air this week has exceeded the amount recorded on Diwali night, which is usually the most polluted day due to the widespread use of firecrackers.



The level of benzene in the air this week has exceeded the amount recorded on Diwali night, which was the most polluted day



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