A sheet of haze lingered over the national capital and its suburbs on Thursday morning, with infuriated farm fires and a fall in the wind speed and temperatures pushing air quality to the worst levels in around a year.
Already Health experts declared that amid the Covid19 pandemic, air pollution could become a serious health concern for about the two crore residents of the national capital.
As the skies hung heavy and acrid over the region, people complained of itchy throat, watery eyes, and rashes. By its occurring due to unfavourable meteorological conditions – calm winds and low temperatures – and smoke from farm fires in neighbouring states led to a dense layer of haze on Wednesday night as the air quality index entered the “severe” zone. And Calm winds and low temperatures trap pollutants close to the ground, while favourable wind speed helps in their dispersion.
According to the CPCB data, PM10 levels in Delhi-NCR stood at 561 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3) and it was the highest since 15 November last year, when it was 637 µg/m3. PM10 levels below 100 µg/m3 are considered safe in India. However, the intake of every 22 micrograms per cubic metre of polluted air is equivalent to smoking a cigarette.
PM10 is particulate matter with a diameter of 10 micrometers which is inhalable. These particles include dust, pollen, and mold spores.
The levels of PM2, finer particles that can even enter the bloodstream, were 347 µg/m3. PM2.5 levels up to 60 µg/m3 are considered safe.
The reason behind a sudden spike of pollution in the bursting of firecrackers in the Delhi-NCR region to mark the festival of Karwa Chauth. Despite being aware of the situation people bursted even it was not Diwali. subsequently, Arvind Kejriwal appealed for crackerless Diwali. This year amid the Covid19 crisis many state governments banned the sale of firecrackers for the safety of Covid patients. People are not realizing its impact but it may make the pandemic worse.
According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the maximum wind speed was 5 kilometres per hour on Thursday morning and the minimum temperature of 11.2 degrees Celsius.
IMD officials said the sudden change in the wind pattern led to “subsidence” — the downward movement of air over a large area when it cools and becomes heavier.
VK Soni, the head of IMD’s environment monitoring research centre, said “The wind speed slowed down suddenly after 10 am in the Delhi-NCR region. The temperatures have dipped alarmingly over the last few days.”
Further added, the haze was primarily smoke from stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana. Unfavourable meteorological conditions trapped it in Delhi-NCR.