Air Pollution: Delhi’s air ‘very poor’ for fourth consecutive day

Air quality enters the ‘very poor’ zone between the 301-400 mark and crosses over to the ‘severe’ zone after exceeding 400.

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Delhi’s air quality remained in the ‘very poor’ category on Monday morning for the fourth consecutive day as per the data uploaded by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). Delhi’s Air Quality Index (AQI) reading at 7am was 344, a marginal improvement from Sunday’s 349.

Air quality enters the ‘very poor’ zone between the 301-400 mark and crosses over to the ‘severe’ zone after exceeding 400.

On Sunday, Delhi’s air quality plunged to ‘severe’ in at least three areas and remained in the ‘very poor’ zone for most other parts. On Saturday, the city’s overall AQI reading was 345.

While scientists at the India Meteorological Department (IMD) have predicted that an improvement in wind speed might spell good news for the city, it could be negated by the likely high import of smoke from stubble burning from Punjab and Haryana, keeping the pollution levels in the ‘very high’ zone till Tuesday.

Stubble fires in the two neighbouring agrarian states of Punjab and Haryana are major contributors to particulate matter (ultrafine particles with size ranging between 2.5 and 10 microns) in Delhi’s air. The particles can enter a person’s lungs and even the bloodstream, causing respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.

As per data uploaded on the CPCB’s Sameer app till 6pm on Sunday, air quality was ‘severe’ in Jahangirpuri, Anand Vihar and Bawana with AQI readings of 403, 401 and 405 respectively.

When AQI is in the ‘severe’ zone, the air affects healthy people and seriously impacts those with existing diseases. On Friday, the air quality at 10 of the 36 monitoring stations in Delhi was in the ‘severe’ zone.

The data showed that barring Lodhi Road and Dr Karni Singh shooting range, which were in the ‘moderate zone’, all other stations reported AQI in the ‘very poor’ zone.

Kuldeep Srivastava, head of IMD’s regional weather forecasting centre, said that on Sunday the wind speed was nearly 8kmph, blowing from the north-western direction, bringing smoke from the states of Punjab and Haryana where stubble burning is at its peak now.

“The weather conditions are likely to remain pretty similar on Monday, which means that even though we will get some wind, there will be no visible improvement in the air quality because the winds continue to carry smoke from Punjab and Haryana,” Srivastava said. He added that things might start improving from Tuesday evening.

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