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Beware! Toxic ozone gas at double the safe limit in some part of Delhi

Environmental scientists say ozone, which is a particularly critical pollutant, has emerged as a concern in Delhi in the last few years.

Written by Pritha Chatterjee | New Delhi |
Updated: June 1, 2015 8:05:04 am
Toxic ozone gas, Delhi pollution, SAFAR data, Delhi Ozone level, Delhi news Ozone level has been highest during the last 10 days when maximum temperatures stayed above 40 degrees Celsius. (Source: PTI photo)

The prevailing high temperatures have contributed to a spike in ozone levels to over double the permissible limits in some parts of the city in the last 10 days. Experts say the emphasis on particulate matter in Delhi has taken the focus off the multi-pollutant crisis in Delhi.

According to air quality data from 10 monitoring stations under the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting Research (SAFAR), the eight-hour average for ozone levels ranged between 120-240 micrograms per cubic metre, higher than the permissible limit of 100 micrograms per cubic metre. According to Dr Gufran Beig, project director, SAFAR under the ministry of earth sciences,”Ozone levels vary greatly between areas like Rajender Nagar which see a 3-4 degree dip in maximum temperatures compared to the rest of the city, and areas like Bhirpur and Delhi University’s north campus where temperatures are very high.”

Environmental scientists say ozone, which is a particularly critical pollutant, has emerged as a concern in Delhi in the last few years.

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“Ozone is the only pollutant which has a one hour notified average safe limit of 180 micrograms per cubic metre. Along with carbon monooxide, it also has an eight-hour average safe limit of 100 micrograms per cubic metre. All other pollutants have 24 hour averages. So even inhaling ozone for one hour can be harmful for asthmatics and,” Dr T K Joshi, director of the centre for occupational and environmental health at Maulana Azad Medical College explained.

According to SAFAR data, areas near Dheerpur industrial area and Aya Nagar recorded the maximum levels of ozone with a peak of 240 micrograms per cubic metre on May 27, which was the worst ozone day in Delhi. According to Air Quality Index, average ozone levels were recorded at 98 on the AQI at NSIT, Dwarka, 126 in RK Puram, 190 in Punjabi Bagh, 156 in civil lines and 220 near the Delhi airport at around 9 PM on Thursday.

Ozone reduces lung function by inflamming and scarring the lining of the lungs. It can also cause chest pain, coughing and exacerbate existing respiratory diseases like asthma and bronchitis. Experts say in the last 10 days, the capital has witnessed a very rare combination of factors seen during summer months, which is essential for ozone levels to shoot up. “Ozone is a gas which does not have any source of its own. It is formed due to a photochemical reaction between other gaseous pollutants like nitrogen dioxide with hydrocarbon gases. So heat and sunlight is a huge factor which triggers this reaction, which the capital has been witnessing,” Anumita Roychowdhury executive director, Centre for Science and Environment explained.

Treat heat strokes as emergency: Govt

New Delhi: The Delhi Government’s Health Department on Thursday directed all hospitals including private institutions to treat patients suffering from heat stroke as “emergency treatment.” This comes in the wake of a heat wave across several parts of the country with tempe1ratures in Delhi hovering around 45 degree Celcius.

A statement issued by the Delhi government said all government and private hospitals and nursing homes have been told to ensure necessary arrangements in their emergency departments in the form of cooled areas, manpower, medicines and IV fluids ice packs and so on. A government official said  hospitals have been asked to be particularly alert when treating symptoms such as “fatigue, weakness, nausea, profuse sweating, rapid pulse, muscle cramps, rapid shallow breathing and paleness of skin”. (ENS)

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