Air quality in Delhi remains very poor; situation may worsen next week

Gwen Vasquez
October 29, 2018

With more than half of the national capital suffering a "severe or severe-plus" air quality, Delhi and the regions around it saw a sudden spike in effluents on Sunday, with Faridabad's air 25 times more polluted than safety standards. As a haze engulfed the city, CPCB data showed several areas in NCR recording air quality that was in the "severe" category. An AQI between O and 50 is said to be good, 51 and 100 satisfactory, 101 and 200 moderate, 201 and 300 poor, 301 and 400 very poor and 401 and 500 severe.

Authorities have already advised residents to keep outdoor activity to a minimum from the beginning of next month until at least the end of the Hindu festival of Diwali on Nov.7, when firecrackers typically further taint air already hit by the burning of crop stubble in neighbouring states.

The CPCB-led task force has recommended stringent measures from November 1 to 10, predicting further deterioration in the air quality ahead of Diwali.

On Thursday, 36% pollution of PM2.5 (presence of particles in the air with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres) by stubble burning was recorded in the national capital.

The PM2.5, also called "fine particulates", can be a matter of more serious health concern than PM10.

The warning comes a day after air pollution shot up on Wednesday due to unfavourable weather, including low temperatures, calm winds and cloudy skies.

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"We have been stripped of our #RightToBreathe", DelhiPollution, an online forum to engage people on pollution in Delhi, said on Twitter.

In Mumbai, the city which is just off the coast of the Arabian Sea, people will experience varying degrees of heat until the onset of winter season, Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has said.

The air quality improved during the day and an overall AQI of 360 was recorded at 4 pm which also falls in very poor category, according to the data. Earlier on October 15, the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) to combat air pollution came into force in Delhi-NCR, for the second consecutive year. "The dominant pollutant of AQ Index is PM2.5 and PM10", the IITM said.

The health advisory is specifically for people suffering from heart or lung disease, older adults and children to avoid prolonged or heavy exertion.

Government authorities have issued warning for Delhiites, advising to keep windows shut, wear masks, prefer short walks, minimise use of private vehicles to battle against the risky levels of air pollution in the city.

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