Published: Thu, November 08, 2018
Science | By Patricia Jimenez

Delhi's air quality on brink of turning severe

Delhi's air quality on brink of turning severe

The sale of air purifiers had surged 40 percent from a year ago because of increasing public awareness about the effects of pollution on health, company and industry officials said.

"The air quality may turn to "Severe Plus Emergency" category on Thursday possibly because of bursting of firecrackers today in view of the Diwali festival", an official said.

As cooler air traps pollutants close to the ground, Delhi's levels of PM2.5 - particles so tiny they can enter the lungs and bloodstream - often soar to beyond 30 times the safe limit.

An AQI between 0-50 is considered good, 51-100 is satisfactory, 101-200 moderate, 201-300 poor, 301-400 very poor and 401-500 is marked as severe/hazardous. However, smoke from fireworks would get trapped, forcing levels of particles in the air to become significantly higher in the morning, taking air quality to the "severe" category.

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A day ahead of Diwali, air quality in New Delhi and the surrounding areas has deteriorated despite the measures that have been taken to curb the rising pollution.

Wind direction changed a couple of days ago and it was coming from the eastern direction which meant it was not coming directly from Punjab and Haryana region where stubble burning is prevalent.

"Even if 50 percent of the total load of toxic fire crackers as compared to Diwali-2017 is added, the prevailing weather conditions will aggravate the high smoke level and make air quality to persist in severe range for at least two day on November 8 and November 9", the SAFAR said in a report.

The pollutants carried by mid-level winds gradually subside and mixes with the local pollution of Delhi-NCR.

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Delhi residents were bracing for the fall-out from Diwali, one of the year's biggest Hindu festivals, which is expected to add to the chronic air pollution problem in the Indian capital. Pollution levels expected to be higher on Thursday. An official said they were waiting for the meteorological conditions to stabilise before they can plan to induce artificial rain using cloud seeding.

'This is due to a variety of factors and mainly influenced by agricultural waste burning in Northern belt of India, ' the Minister said.

In 2016, the government tried to explore the possibility of cloud seeding for artificial rain but the plan never worked out.

Dr Thérèse Coffey MP, the under secretary of state for the environment confirmed in a written statement to the Global Air Pollution conference that her government will start legislation for a new Environment Act by early 2019.

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The protesters held placards displaying messages like "Delhi air is poisonous", "breathing is killing me", '#My Right to Breathe" and "Unbreathable India' outside the Indira Paryavaran Bhawan.

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