Delhi's pollution level remains 'severe' for third consecutive day
Pollution in Delhi remained in the severe level for the third consecutive day, as wind speed and other meteorological factors remained "highly unfavorable" for dispersion of pollutants today, according to authorities. Authorities advised people to minimize outdoor activities, and avoid the use of private vehicles. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data showed the air quality index (AQI) at a severe level of 445.
On the other hand, the Center-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting (SAFAR) showed a higher AQI of 477. An AQI between 100 to 200 comes under the moderate category, 201 and 300 is considered poor, 301 and 400 very poor, while that between 401 and 500 is severe. CPCB said 32 areas of the national capital recorded 'severe' air quality today.
Five areas in Delhi recorded very poor air quality, according to the CPCB. In NCR, Noida recorded the worst air quality with an AQI of 464. Faridabad and Ghaziabad also recorded severe air quality. The overall PM2.5 level (fine particulate matter in the air with a diameter less than 2.5 micrometer) was recorded at 369 and the PM10 level at 533, the CPCB said.
Delhi's air quality turned severe on Saturday. Yesterday, the year's second-highest pollution was recorded at an AQI of 450. According to Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), the air quality is likely to improve tomorrow, but will remain in the upper end of the 'very poor to severe' category. "The wind speed and ventilation index are highly unfavorable for dispersion of pollutants," it said.
Ventilation index is the speed at which pollutants can get dispersed. The ventilation index lower than 6000 sqm/second with average wind speed less than 10 kmph is unfavorable for dispersion of pollutants. The index was 4500 sqm/second today, said IITM.
A CPCB-led task force has directed authorities to intensify ground actions to enforce measures already in place, particularly to control emissions from vehicles and burning of biomass. The other directions include agencies concerned should increase surveillance to find industrial waste dumping or burning especially in hotspots that are vulnerable to high pollution level and also intensifying water sprinkling and mechanized sweeping.
Traffic police are also directed to ensure the smooth flow of traffic, including during long holidays. The task force has also urged people to avoid using private vehicles, particularly diesel ones, and minimize outdoor exposure for the next 3-5 days, especially those with respiratory illness.
The IMD said prolonged period of light winds and low temperature are likely to continue for the next three to five days, resulting in poor dispersion of pollutants and the current severe air quality may continue for next two to three days. In a health advisory, the SAFAR asked Delhiites not to rely on common dust masks for protection.
The agency has advised Delhiites to avoid taking walks this time. "If the room has windows, close them, if the air conditioner provides a fresh air intake option then choose it, avoid burning anything such as wood, candle or even an incense," it said. The advisory also recommended frequent wet mopping and using masks known as N-95 or P-100 respirators only for outdoor activities.