Hold your breath: Delhi air quality severe, about to get worse

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Updated: October 30, 2016 9:55 am
Delhi Air Quality, Diwali, Diwali air quality, Diwali news, Delhi news, Latest news, India news Near India Gate, Saturday. National Air Quality Index reading was ‘severe’ at 5 stations, ‘very poor’ at 3 stations. Praveen Khanna

The air quality in the capital continued to range from “severe” to “very poor” on Saturday, even as experts predicted more polluted air this Diwali as compared to last year.

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The National Air Quality Index (AQI), which measures particulate matter (PM) levels, showed “severe” at five stations and “very poor” at three stations in the capital on Saturday. Anand Vihar reported the worst air quality, with the AQI at 478. Unlike Friday, when PM 10 was the prominent pollutant, on Saturday it was PM 2.5 at Anand Vihar.

Meanwhile, air quality on Diwali is expected to remain “severe” and the AQI is expected to be around 443, with the prominent pollutant expected to be PM 2.5.

The numbers are expected to get worse after Diwali, with experts from the System of Air Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) predicting an AQI of 472.

During Diwali last year, the PM 2.5 levels had seen a drop from the previous year (2014). The air quality in 2015 was “very poor” as compared to “severe” in 2014.

This year, experts predict that the share of PM 2.5, which is considered more harmful than PM 10, is expected to “increase by 10-20 per cent during Diwali period as compared to normal days”. SAFAR predicts that the share of PM 2.5 will become 60-70 per cent this Diwali season.

SAFAR also issued a health advisory for areas recording “severe” air quality. It stated that “people with heart or lung disease, older adults and children should remain indoors and keep activity levels low”.

In areas recording “very poor” air quality, the advisory stated that “people with heart or lung disease, older adults and children should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion”.

Meanwhile, the Delhi government on Saturday reviewed the ambient air quality in the capital on the eve of Diwali.

“Agricultural fires in fields of neighbouring states, particularly Punjab and Haryana, are a major contributor in the deterioration of ambient air quality, which will also suffer due to inversion and calm meteorological conditions (that are) currently prevailing,” said the government’s official statement.

The government also said that teams of the environment department had seized illegally imported crackers from Qutub Road, Moti Nagar, Rajouri Garden and Patel Nagar.