Air pollution levels rose in the capital on Dussehra as firecrackers were burned, nearly doubling the concentration of pollutants at five monitoring stations after 6pm on Sunday.
The rise in pollution levels were noticed even as wind speed at the five monitoring stations — a crucial meteorological factor that helps in dispersion of pollutants — remained constant and low, ranging between 0.1 and 1 metre per second, as per data from the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC).
Patparganj, India Gate, Dwarka, Najafgarh and Mundka were the five monitoring stations which recorded a sudden spike in particulate matter of 2.5 and 10 micrometres (PM2.5, PM10) — fine particles which are emitted from combustion activities, including burning of firecrackers.
With festivities being relatively hushed this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, there were fewer Ravana effigies set on fire and fewer firecrackers burned on Dussehra, as compared to the same period last year.
However, officials said that firecrackers were the only additional air pollution source that was added to Delhi after 6pm on Sunday, meaning the rise in pollution levels do, in part, relate to the burning of crackers.
At Patparganj, the concentration of PM10 rose from 277 µg/m3 at 6pm to 509 µg/m3 at 9pm, nearly five time above its 24-hour exposure limit of 100 µg/m3.
At 6 pm, Dwarka already had PM10 levels over 10 times above the acceptable limit, at 1,320 µg/m3. It dropped to 719 µg/m3 by 9 pm. The level of PM2.5 rose from 205 to 254 µg/m3 at the same time, against its 24 hour exposure limit of 60 µg/m3.
The spike in PM2.5 — considered more toxic than PM10 — was sharpest at Mundka, rising from 110 at 6 pm to 271 µg/m3 at 9 pm.
Officials also said other monitoring stations in the city, such as Bawana and Mandir Marg, also recorded a spike in pollution levels between 6 pm and 9 pm.
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