The national capital on Tuesday woke up to witness fog as air quality was recorded in ‘severe’ category. The major pollutants PM 2.5 were recorded at 391 and PM 10 at 367 (very poor category) in the RK Puram area. In the Anand Vihar area, the Air Quality Index (AQI) PM 2.5 was at 456 and PM 10 at 431. At the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium area, PM 2.5 was at 381 and PM 10 at 403. AQI at Punjabi Bagh Delhi was recorded 'very poor', PM 2.5 was at 420 while the PM 10 was at 380. Delhi's air quality has been oscillating between 'very poor' and 'severe' categories for the past 10 days.
In 2018, a total of 18 severe air quality days were recorded in comparison to nine the previous year, CPCB data showed. The year, weary Delhiites said, seemed to pass in a blur of ‘severe’, ‘very poor’ and ‘poor’ air quality days, forcing children and the elderly to stay indoors, morning walkers delaying their daily exercise and schools moving around play times to reduce exposure to the outdoors. Experts said Delhiites breathed over three months of toxic air in 2018. However, the number of ‘very poor’ days in 2018 were 82, less than the 106 such days in 2017, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data said.
According to officials, the combination of calm wind and colder conditions is elevating pollution levels at night while it gets marginally better during the day with wind speeds picking up slightly and temperatures increasing. The reason for the region’s worsening pollution in the summer months can also be attributed to a dust storm in June that resulted in a sudden spike in PM10 (fine particulate matter in the air with a diameter of less than 10 micrometres) level and pushed the overall air quality to ‘severe’.
Delhi is reeling under the menace of air pollution for the past couple of years. The region faced a major air quality crisis last year when severe pollution level forced the shutdown of schools and colleges. In 2016, the government tried to explore the possibility of cloud seeding for artificial rain but the plan never worked out.
An AQI between 100 to 200 comes under ‘moderate’ category, 201 and 300 is considered ‘poor’, 301 and 400 ‘very poor’ while between 401 and 500 ‘severe’. The overall PM2.5 (fine particulate matter in the air with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometre) level was recorded at 143 and the PM10 (fine particulate matter in the air with a diameter of less than 10 micrometre) level at 253, according to SAFAR.