Delhi, you’re killing me

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Bringing back terrifying memories of last November’s apocalyptic smog, Delhi awoke to find itself shrouded in a toxic grey haze on Tuesday . Air quality fell to “severe” levels, worse than post Diwali pollution in the city . Roads wore a dystopian look with pollution masks everywhere as Delhiites complained of headaches, burning eyes, breathing discomfort, runny noses and a depressive mood. The Indian Medical Association described it as a “public health emergency”.

The city’s air quality index (AQI) touched 448, as per CPCB, worse than the 403 reading Delhi had recorded a day after Diwali. On November 5 last year, the AQI was 485, with extremely poor visibility that meteorologists had described as a “smoke haze”. Delhiites had hoped they would never have to see such extreme smog again. But on Tuesday, at least 15 air quality stations were again in “severe” category .

Experts said the next few days are likely to be just as bad, as calm wind conditions and high humidity were leading to an accumulation of pollutants. Explaining the sudden drop in air quality, they said it was a deadly mix of crop-burning pollutants coming in from Punjab and Haryana and moisture entering the region from UP.

A source in pollution research body SAFAR said high speed upper winds from north northwest had most likely brought in stubble-burning pollutants from midnight onwards. Calm surface winds allowed the pollutants to settle over NCR. CPCB said moisture laden easterly winds were also coming to the capital, trapping particulate matter locally and causing fog as well. Among NCR locations, Ghaziabad was the worst with an AQI of 475, followed by Noida at 468. Ghaziabad has suspended primary classes for two days and ordered a stop to all private construction activity.

Under “severe” conditions, exposure to polluted air outdoors can “affect healthy people and seriously impact those with existing diseases”. Several studies have concluded that hospital admissions go up drastically during such severe air pollution episodes. The short-term impacts are related to respirato ry and heart ailments. What we know for sure from studies and otherwise is that during winter there is a strong correlation between pollution levels and hospital admissions,” said Anumita Roy Chowdhury, head of Centre for Science and Environment (CSE’s) clean air programme.

Officials at the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) said weather conditions were likely to remain the same for the next 48 hours. There will be little or no wind to help disperse the pollutants.

Source:- Times Of India

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