Delhi AQI dips to 395; worse air quality predicted tomorrow
Delhi's air quality further worsened on the day of Diwali, recording an Air Quality Index (AQI) of 395 ("very poor"). The national capital's air quality is expected to decline further due to the impact of firecrackers burst during Diwali celebrations on Thursday evening. Extremely calm wind conditions and stubble burning in neighboring states also contribute to the city's pollution.
Why does this story matter?
Delhi was rated the world's most polluted capital city last year for the third consecutive year by IQAir. The onset of winter presents a worrisome situation for the city as stubble burning in neighboring states and Diwali aggravate air pollution. The city's air quality is expected to worsen by Thursday night, even without the emissions from any firecrackers.
What's the AQI in Delhi-NCR?
At 5 pm, several areas in Delhi recorded "very poor" air quality: Delhi University (AQI: 380), PUSA (367), Lodhi Road (375), Mathura Road (385), IIT-Delhi (391), and Indira Gandhi International Airport, Terminal 3 (379). Gurugram and Noida recorded "very poor" and "severe" air quality, with AQIs of 397 and 402, respectively, according to the System of Air Quality & Weather Forecasting & Research (SAFAR).
What is a 'good' AQI?
An AQI reading between zero and 50 is considered "good." Further, a reading between 51-100 is considered "satisfactory," followed by "moderate" (101-200), "poor" (201-300), "very poor" (301-400), and "severe" (401-500).
Tomorrow's air quality forecast
According to SAFAR, Delhi's air quality will now continue to worsen, becoming "severe" by Thursday night even without firecracker emissions. "If firecrackers are burned even 50% of last year then PM2.5 will enter SEVERE category by midnight and shoot up rapidly by tomorrow early morning with AQI crossing 500+," it said. Calm wind conditions over the next few days will add to residents' woes.
When will air quality improve?
Stubble burning contributed 25% to the current levels of air pollution in Delhi, according to SAFAR. The stubble share will likely increase to 35% by Thursday and 40% by Saturday and Sunday, SAFAR forecasted. The situation is only expected to improve by Sunday evening. However, even then, the AQI will fluctuate within the "very poor" range.
In October, Delhi's air had improved briefly
In October, a longer monsoon and strong winds had caused Delhi's air to improve a little. The concentration of PM2.5 averaged 72 per cubic meter of air. This was an improvement compared to October last year, when the figure stood at 126, 25 times over the safe limit as determined by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Firecrackers banned in Delhi
The Delhi government had earlier banned the use of firecrackers. The National Green Tribunal and the Supreme Court had also issued orders banning firecrackers containing Barium Sulfate. However, the black-marketing of firecrackers continued. The city government had launched a 'Patakhe Nahi Diye Jalao' ("Burn lamps, not firecrackers") campaign and action is being taken against violators under provisions of the IPC and the Explosives Act.