'Air quality has taken a hit due to dust storms'

Panel advisory to chief secys of Delhi-NCR states.

New Delhi: The air quality in the national capital on Wednesday deteriorated beyond the “severe” level because of a ground-level dust storm in western India, which increased coarser particles in the air, the Central Pollution Control Board data showed.

The CPCB data showed, the PM10 (particles with diameter less than 10mm) level was beyond “severe” at 778 in Delhi-NCR area in general and 824 in the capital in particular.

The SC-appointed watchdog EPCA on Wednesday issued an advisory to chief secretaries of states in Delhi-NCR asking them to take “urgent steps” for controlling dust pollution, officials said. Environment Pollution Prevention and Control Authority member Sunita Narain said, “We are monitoring the situation and may impose ‘severe plus’ tomorrow if things do not improve.”

The EPCA’s advisory comes amid high pollution levels in Delhi due to dust storms from Rajasthan, as the air quality deteriorated beyond “severe” level on Wednesday.

Gufran Beig, a scientist at the Centre-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research Institute, dust storms worsened the air quality in Delhi-NCR.

He said, “Due to the dust storm, coarser particles increased drastically in the air, causing the pollution levels in Delhi to increase.” He, however, said that the air quality in the capital should improve later today.

The scientist also added, “The dust storms accompanied by high-speed winds do not last too long due to which the air quality will return back to normal by this evening.”

The CPCB said the air quality index (AQI) at several places across the capital crossed the 500-mark.

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