Even as Delhi debated over the ‘even-odd’ car strategy on Monday, foul air choked the capital’s residents. Air quality readings across various places in the city showed PM 10, 19 times and PM 2.5 almost eight times above the prescribed limit. This has the potential to affect healthy people and seriously impact those with existing respiratory ailments. The sudden spike in pollutants across the capital was attributed by the meteorological department (IMD) to calm winds and an increase in humidity in the air.
Maximum temperature was recorded at 25.9 degrees Celsius, two notches above the season’s average. The minimum temperature settled at 11 degrees, two notches above normal. Humidity in the air oscillated between 95 and 53 per cent. “Visibility extended a bit over a kilometre, but it would start coming down once the temperature drops,’ the MeT department said.
The real time readings of Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) monitoring stations had PM 10 and PM 2.5 at 1903 and 452 microgram per cubic meter in Anand Vihar, east Delhi, as recorded at around 9 pm.
PM 10 was at 753 microgram per cubic meter in RK Puram, south of the city, at the same time.
In Punjabi Bagh, west Delhi, PM 10 and PM 2.5 were at 459 micrograms per cubic meter and 255 micrograms per cubic meter respectively. These are, collectively, the three most polluted locations in the city. Permissible levels of PM (Particulate Matter) 10 and PM 2.5 are 100 and 60 microgram per cubic meter respectively.
These particles, which are the major pollutants responsible for polluting the national capital’s air, can harm the respiratory system as these particles tend to embed themselves deep inside the lungs. These particles are products of vehicle emissions, burning of waste, industrial plumes.
PM 2.5, especially, is considered by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a cancer causing agent.
Anumita Roychowdhury, Executive Director, Research and Advocacy at Centre for Science and Environment, said, “Due to lack of proper winds, inversion conditions have already begun. This is when hot air is unable to rise above a certain level and dispersion of pollutants gets blocked.”
“In October 2015, we registered only three per cent of the total days with ‘severe’ air pollution level. The same rose up to 73 per cent in November. What worries us is that December might surpass these numbers as the winter sets in,” she added.
National air quality index of CPCB also had ‘severe’ readings recorded from the areas of Punjabi Bagh, Mandir Marg and R K Puram stations, where PM 2.5 was the most prominent pollutant.
System of Air Quality and Weather Due to lack of winds, inversion conditions have already begun. This is when hot air is unable to rise above a certain level and dispersion of pollutants gets blocked. – Anumita Roychowdhury, Centre for Science and Environment Forecasting And Research (SAFAR) stations in Delhi University, IGI Airport, Dhirpur had air in the ‘severe’ category as well, bordering around 450 in most cases.
Interestingly, Beijing, China’s Capital city, also issued its first red alert of the year on air pollution on Monday.
It happened as the city of over 22 million people was enveloped by a thick smog, which is being stated to be the worst in recent months.
“Beijing has upgraded its alert for air pollution from orange to red, the most serious level today. It will last from 7am on Tuesday to 12pm on Thursday,’ state-run Xinhua news agency reported. Neighbouring provinces of Hebei, Henan and Shandong, as well as parts of eastern Jiangsu province, were also severely affected.
The notice, issued after days of heavy smog last week, also places traffic restrictions on certain types of vehicles in the city. Schools have been asked to keep children inside classrooms as much as possible and not to allow sports or outdoor activities to ensure limited exposure to heavy smog.
Save your kids, leave Delhi: Doctors
Leave Delhi, right now, if you want to save your children from fatal lungs disorders, severe respiratory problems, nausea, throat infection, pressure and fatigue – this is the suggestion from Delhi-based doctors
Delhi’s air is getting polluted by the day. “If you want your kids to grow up into a normal, healthy person, then Delhi is not the place where he or she should be brought up. Around 22 lakh school children in the national capital are growing up with irreversible lung damage,” Dr Sanjay Jain, ENT Specialist from SCI International Hospital said.
Delhi’s children have more upper respiratory illnesses, such as sinusitis, running or stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat and common cold with fever and two times more lower respiratory diseases like frequent dry cough, sputum-producing cough, wheezing breath, breathlessness on exertion, chest pain or tightness and disturbed sleep (due to breathing problems) than children from less polluted cities.
“Air pollution has come up as one of the major health challenges of modern Indian cities. With increasing respiratory problems and morbidities, it is now important to raise levels of knowledge about pollutants – outdoor as well as indoor -and the health hazards caused by these,” Dr Raj Kumar, Head Of Department, Department of Respiratory Allergy & Applied Immunology, Vallabhbhai Patel Chest Institute said. Children’s health is most acutely affected by exposure to air pollution. Therefore, potential adverse effects of air pollution on fetus, infants and children should be the main cause of concern while setting up standards for an air pollutants as well as during the revision of existing standards.
“People with a history of respiratory tract infections should stay more careful. This is the worst possible time of the year for them. High level of precautionary measures should be taken. People should cover their faces while travelling. Even staying indoors is not safe as suspended air particles tend to enter through windows,” Dr JC Suri, Professor and Head of Pulmonary Medicine at Safdarjung hospital told Mail
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