The air pollution levels across the country have gone up to alarmingly high in between the celebration of Diwali on Sunday and Monday morning. Delhi’s pollution levels spiked to as much as 42 times higher than the normal in one of the most polluted spots of the Capital. People saw thick smog in many areas where visibility reduced upto 200 metres.
According to the reports of air quality monitored by the Central Pollution Control Board, PM 2.5 (smaller pollutants), a standard measure of air quality, in Delhi went up to 999 in the US Embassy area and 702 in Anand Vihar, which is almost ten times the safe limit of 60 micrograms per cubic metres. Particulate Matter or PM 10 (coarser pollutants) was over 1,600 micrograms per cubic metre compared to a safe level of 100 at around 2 am in Anand Vihar.
Centre’s System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) monitoring had the average levels of PM2.5 and PM10, at 283 and 517 respectively around 6am. SAFAR had, in its Diwali forecast, said the city’s air will be severely polluted on October 30 and 31. This time, the air quality has been worse than the last two years. This is certainly because of a combination of adverse factors like slow wind speed and moisture in the air, a major hindrance in the dispersion of suspended pollutants.
In Mumbai, PM 2.5 went up to the hazardous level of 494. The air quality index (AQI) was expected to go as high as 334, which comes under the ‘very poor’ category.
The conditions were worse in Ahmedabad where PM 2.5 stood at 999, almost 15 times more than the safe limit. In Lucknow, PM 2.5 went as high as 834 in the city. In Kolkata, the maximum value of PM 2.5 was recorded to be at 378 which is said to ‘Unhealthy’. In Bangalore, the Air Quality Index stood at the ‘Moderate’ level with PM 2.5 going up to three times more than the safe limit.
Cities in India are competing with each other to be the worst polluted city in the world
As per Wikipedia, out of 20 most polluted cities, 13 are Indian cities:
The ultrafine particulate matters are harmful as prolonged exposure to them could cause respiratory diseases and other bronchial diseases. The condition is particularly harmful for the elderly, children and pregnant women. Since particulate matter like RSPM (Respirable Suspended Particulate Matter) are inhaled, lungs and the airway are the first organs to be affected. While PM10 enters alveoli or small sacks in lungs and gets accumulated there. Thus, while PM10 affects upper respiratory tract from the nose and windpipe, PM 2.5 particles affect the lower respiratory system since they enter the lungs.
The city of about 20 million people, ranking among the world’s top cities with foul air on a WHO list, has been struggling to clean its air that contains a toxic dust, smoke and gases from vehicle, factory exhausts and coal-fired power stations.