Festive firecrackers worsen Delhi's air quality to "severe emergency" category

Indian Medical Association advises people to avoid firecrackers alcohol this Diwali

Indian Medical Association advises people to avoid firecrackers alcohol this Diwali

Early morning ambient air quality readings in Delhi - the world's most polluted major city, according to the World Health Organisation - touched 526, according to the United States embassy in the city which independently monitors pollution levels.

The last time a western disturbance influenced the weather in the Capital, the AQI went from "very poor" to "moderate" on Sunday (November 4).

Hours after tens of thousands of people celebrated the Hindu Festival of Lights in News Delhi on Wednesday, a plume of toxic smog shrouded the city, turning day into dusk.

AQI is a pollutant measuring indicator. It is poor when between 201 to 300 and very poor between 301 to 400.

"Staff with young children are increasingly choosing not to come which wasn't the case a few years ago", a Western diplomat told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Mumbai Mirror conducted a pollution test drive and joined volunteers of Aawaz Foundation to see how noisy the city was and Urban Sciences employee Naved Nakadar to check the air quality this Diwali.

"The overall Air Quality Index (AQI) of Delhi at 8:30 am was recorded at 458, which falls under the "severe" category", said System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR).

"Winters have just started and Patna is witnessing an alarming air quality with three "very poor" and seven "poor" air quality level days in the past 10 days (October 25 to November 3)", said Ankita Jyoti, senior program officer, CEED. "But we can says the pollution level was 6.5 times higher in Delhi and NCR than the standard (60) category from Diwali night to Thursday morning", said the official. This utter disregard for the directive from the highest court of the land reflects a sorry state of affairs in a country that has already earned the dubious distinction of being among the world's worst polluted regions. Air is considered moderately polluted when AQI reading lies between 101 to 200.

The AQI entered in the severe category at 2 am after midnight on Thursday.

SAFAR's data showed that PM 2.5 level was more than eight times the permissible limit, while PM 10 was six times the permissible limit. Once the PM2.5 level crosses 80 or 100 [micrograms per cubic metre], it has a huge impact on health. SAFAR's forecast said it would rise to 245 µg/m3 on Thursday and drop to 190 µg/m3 by Friday. The concentration of PM2.5 in the air increased by 44 per cent compared to the day after Diwali a year ago (see chart). Though several laws are in place to check pollution and courts have been repeatedly intervening in the matter, the situation on the ground remains alarming.

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