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  Air quality hits new low, smog engulfs Delhi

Air quality hits new low, smog engulfs Delhi

Published : Nov 8, 2015, 1:24 am IST
Updated : Nov 8, 2015, 1:24 am IST

Delhi’s air quality hit a new low on Saturday, with particulate matters (PM) and level of Benzene spiking astronomically in a few pockets of the city.

Delhi’s air quality hit a new low on Saturday, with particulate matters (PM) and level of Benzene spiking astronomically in a few pockets of the city. Anand Vihar showed the maximum PM 2.5 at 716 microgram per cubic metre, nearly 12 times higher than the permissible limit.

As the day progressed, the capital came under a blanket of thick smog, a phenomenon resulting out of multiple factors, including increased moisture levels due to the recent western disturbances, burning of crop stubble in neighbouring states and local emissions.

The level of benzene, exposure to which can have long-term adverse health effects, including cancer, was alarmingly high at Anand Vihar and a few other residential areas like Civil Lines and R.K. Puram. At Anand Vihar, benzene was over five times the safe limit at 27.5 microgram per cubic metre. Five microgram per cubic metre is the prescribed limit.

R.K. Puram and Civil Lines showed the levels at 11.1 and 22.06 at around 2 PM as per the readings of the Delhi Pollution Control Committee. “The situation is likely to persist till November 9. On November 10, there is a possibility of western disturbance which will disperse the pollutants to some extent. But the current situation is also due to the recent showers which also brought a lot of moisture in the air,” a senior IMD official said.

The reading stations of the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) showed average PM 2.5 and PM 10 levels at 272 and 330, respectively, which fall under its “very poor” category.

At Delhi University, PM 2.5 was at 340 while PM 10 was at 327 around 2.30 PM. In west Delhi’s Pitampura, which has shown consistently high pollution levels, the readings were 304 and 298, respectively.

Suspended particulate matters, PM 2.5 and PM 10, can penetrate deep into the lungs. Health experts warned that once inhaled, they have the potential to cause severe damage to the health. “Living in smog-filled environments can cause a host of diseases, including allergies, respiratory disorders and cardiovascular ailments. Over time, it causes the build-up of plaque in the arteries supplying blood and nutrients to the heart. Exposure to high levels of smog can be life-threatening for those with existing heart diseases as it can precipitate a heart atta-ck,” said senior interventional cardiologist at Kailash Hospital and Heart Institute, Dr Santosh Kumar Agarwal.

SAFAR officials observed that bursting of firecrackers during Diwali will shoot up the level of pollution, which has already assumed severe proportions with the onset of winter and subsequent fall in temperature which traps the pollutants at a lower level in the atmosphere.

According to a World Health Organisation (WHO) report released in May last year, Delhi was ranked as the most polluted city in the world.A recent study, led by the University of Surrey in UK, identified several factors including a “toxic blend of geography”, growth, poor energy sources and unfavourable weather for the situation in the city.

Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi