Delhi’s deteriorating air quality nears danger mark, sparking health concerns

The deteriorating air quality in Delhi NCR has become a pressing concern, gaining significant attention in recent times. In response to this, we aim to provide our readers with a comprehensive report, offering the latest information on the current situation, which has sparked widespread concern and discussions both online and offline.

The air quality in Delhi NCR is rapidly declining, and this is evident through the alarming Air Quality Index (AQI) readings. Several locations in the region have approached or exceeded the 400 mark on the AQI scale, which is a critical threshold on the scale of 500. According to data from the Central Pollution Control Board, three monitoring stations, namely Anand Vihar, Mundka, and Punjabi Bagh, have recorded AQI readings well above the 400 mark, categorizing the pollution as “severe.”

In response to this escalating environmental crisis, authorities have taken immediate actions to mitigate the situation. For instance, primary schools in the capital have been temporarily closed, and non-essential construction activities have been restricted. Furthermore, there are limitations imposed on the operation of petrol and diesel vehicles in Delhi and its surrounding areas as part of the broader efforts to combat the ongoing environmental challenges.

Government agencies have issued warnings that the situation may further deteriorate over the next two to three weeks. Several factors are contributing to this concern, including the annual increase in farm fires, declining temperatures, and reduced wind speeds, all of which could collectively lead to a rise in pollution levels in Delhi-NCR. The visual evidence of this problem was evident as the national capital’s skyline was shrouded in a smoky haze, a condition expected to persist in the coming days.

The concentration of PM2.5, a fine particulate matter that poses significant health risks, has been found to be seven to eight times higher than the recommended safe limit of 60 micrograms per cubic meter in several areas. This alarming level of pollution has the potential to cause respiratory and other health problems among the population. Notably, the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology in Pune has reported that smoke from stubble burning accounted for 25% of the PM2.5 pollution in Delhi on November 2, and this percentage is projected to increase to 35% today.

The escalating pollution levels have taken a toll on public health, particularly increasing the workload for pulmonologists in Delhi. Dr. GC Khilnani, the chairman of the PSRI Institute of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine, has reported a significant rise in patient cases, with a surge of 30 to 40% in the past ten days. As a member of the WHO Technical Advisory Group on Global Air Pollution and Health, Dr. Khilnani warns that the situation is likely to worsen further due to the prevailing foggy weather conditions and the upcoming Diwali celebrations, which often exacerbate air quality issues with firecracker emissions.