Delhi’s air quality saw improvement on Friday as peak pollution values dipped. Experts, however, said that the air could get fouler on Saturday, with fog expected in the morning.
According to the Central Pollution Control (CPCB) data, the air quality index value on Friday was recorded at 453, in the severe category.
While the percentage of pollutants in the air was recorded at 7%, reportedly due to crop-residue burning, scientists at the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) said that a mass of cold air from Punjab and Haryana is travelling towards Delhi, which could increase the concentration of pollutants in the city.
“Delhi’s air quality has improved significantly since yesterday (Thursday) but the recovery is slow due to low surface wind speed, and it continued to be in severe category. Latest SAFAR model results show a movement of cold front carrying heavy air mass towards Delhi region but with low wind speed at intrusion level. There is a possibility that wind may pick up at upper level, late in the night and push the level of pollution and keep it in severe zone tomorrow (Saturday) with intensified fog, which will further help trap pollutants,” SAFAR said in a statement.
Dipping temperatures increase the possibility of pollutants being trapped. This, coupled with low surface wind speeds, is likely to bring down air quality more as compared to Friday. SAFAR scientists also said that while satellite images show that heavy fire counts were recorded between Thursday and Friday evening, the contribution of pollutants was marginal.
Of the 33 CPCB stations in Delhi, 26 recorded severe air quality, while seven recorded very poor air quality on Friday. According to SAFAR data, the average PM2.5 concentration was measured at 303 µg/m3, over five times the acceptable limit. The concentration of PM10 was measured as 440 µg/m3, over four times the acceptable limit.