'Hazardous' air pollution in India's capital prompts emergency measures

Moreover, authorities said that due to pollutants caused by biomass burning in the adjoining regions of Delhi and unfavorable meteorological conditions, the air quality is likely to remain in the "very poor" category on Thursday and Friday.

Air pollution is the fourth biggest threat to public health in the United Kingdom, after cancer, obesity and heart disease.

The PM2.5 (particles in the air with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres) level was recorded at 143 while the PM10 (particles in the air with a diameter of less than 10 micrometres) was recorded at 281 in Delhi, according to the CPCB data.

On Monday, the air quality of Delhi and most of the NCR fell from moderate on Sunday to severe on Monday.

According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data PM10 level in Delhi stood at 425.


"Wind speeds dropped to 15 kilometers per hour from 29 and there's a significant jump in crop stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana in the past few hours", Anumita Roychowdhury, an executive director at the Centre for Science and Environment think-tank, said, referring to two states where farmers burn stubble in their fields to prepare for winter planting.

The UK's commitment for Clean Air in Geneva today also highlighted the commitment of a £3.5bn government investment to reduce concentrations of nitrogen dioxide at roadside hotspots, including £1.2bn to improve provision for walking and cycling and £475 million to help local authorities develop and implement local air quality plans.

Shallow fog and haze during daytime is expected on Wednesday and Thursday, it said.

To control the situation that escalated previous year, the Supreme Court has banned the manufacture and sale of pollution-causing fireworks in New Delhi.

A SAFAR official said intensified stubble burning was contributing almost 24 percent to the air pollution in Delhi. "These measures are being introduced keeping in mind the forecast and the need for emergency actions to combat pollution", said Bhure Lal, chairman of EPCA.


Meanwhile, the CPCB said it has recommended to the authorities that the entry of heavy vehicles in Delhi be banned after Diwali from November 8 to 10 when the air quality is expected to deteriorate further to "severe" level.

At 2 p.m., the average particle pollutants across 35 regions of Delhi was 215 microgrammes per cubic meters, falling under the "very poor" category, against 257 or "severe" category at 9 a.m.

"The new trend in Delhi to disperse pollutants much faster from one extreme as compared to a year ago (has been) witnessed in this winter, which means that accumulated pollutants are getting more free path than earlier".

Delhi residents were bracing for the fall-out from Diwali, one of the year's biggest Hindu festivals, which is expected to add to the chronic air pollution problem in the Indian capital.

Pollution in Delhi has spiked to 24 times the safe level - amid fears it could get even worse due to firecrackers set off for Diwali.


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