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According to the ministry of Earth Sciences’ Air Quality Early Warning System for Delhi, an increase in farm fires in Punjab, Haryana and neighbouring regions of Pakistan is also going to impact the air quality in Delhi-NCR.
Delhi: Air quality deteriorates in the national capital with rise of pollutants in the atmosphere; visuals from ITO… https://t.co/sub9gwaFyi
— TOI Delhi (@TOIDelhi) 1602554687000
The city recorded an air quality index (AQI) of 304 at 9.30am, which falls in the very poor category. The 24-hour average AQI was 261 on Monday, the worst since February. It was 216 on Sunday and 221 on Saturday.
Wazirpur (AQI 380), Vivek Vihar (AQI 355) and Jahangirpuri (AQI 349) recorded the highest pollution levels.
An AQI between 0 and 50 is considered ‘good’, 51 and 100 ‘satisfactory’, 101 and 200 ‘moderate’, 201 and 300 ‘poor’, 301 and 400 ‘very poor’, and 401 and 500 ‘severe’.
A senior scientist at the Delhi Pollution Control Committee said the dip in the air quality can be attributed to low wind speed and temperatures which allowed accumulation of pollutants.
Stubble burning has also increased in neighbouring states. Also, the ventilation index is low? he said.
Ventilation index is the speed at which pollutants can get dispersed. A ventilation index lower than 6,000sqm/second, with average wind speed less than 10kmph, is unfavourable for dispersion of pollutants.
PM10 levels in Delhi-NCR stood at 300 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3) at 9am — the highest this season so far, according to CPCB data. PM10 levels below 100µg/m3 are considered safe in India.
PM10 is particulate matter with a diameter of 10 micrometres and is inhalable into the lungs. These particles include dust, pollen and mold spores.
The levels of PM2.5 “finer particles which can even enter the bloodstream“ were 129µg/m3. PM2.5 levels up to 60µg/m3 are considered safe.
NASA’s satellite imagery showed a large cluster of fires near Amritsar and Firozpur in Punjab and Patiala, Ambala and Kaithal in Haryana.
According to the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research, farm fires contributed 3 percent particulate matter to Delhi’s PM2.5 concentration on Monday.
It is likely to be a negligible for the next two days due to a change in the wind direction from northwesterly to southeasterly, the government agency said.
On Tuesday morning, the maximum wind speed was 4 kilometre per hour, according to the India Meteorological Department.
Low temperatures and stagnant winds help in the accumulation of pollutants near the ground, affecting air quality.
With Delhi-NCR bracing for months of poor air quality, experts have warned that high levels of air pollution can aggravate the Covid-19 pandemic.
Severe air pollution in Delhi is a year-round problem, which can be attributed to unfavourable meteorological conditions, farm fires in neighbouring regions and local sources of pollution.
According to an analysis by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water, a Delhi-based think tank, transportation contribute the most – 18 to 39 per cent — to Delhi’s air pollution.
Road dust is the second-largest source of air pollution in the city (18 to 38 per cent), followed by industries (2 to 29 per cent), thermal power plants (3 to 11 per cent) and construction (8 per cent).
This year, the Delhi government has launched a massive anti-air pollution campaign — â€œYuddh Pradushan Ke Viruddh’ — which is being led by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Environment Minister Gopal Rai.
A green war room with a 10-member expert team has been set up at the Delhi Secretariat to monitor the steps being taken to deal with high levels of air.