Same Old Story: Smog, Haze Back in Delhi After Diwali

Leroy Wright
November 10, 2018

After the Diwali festival, levels of airborne PM 10 and PM 2.5 touched 470 and 322 respectively, up from 438 and 180 in 2018, the Central Pollution Control Board said in a bulletin. AQI above 500 falls in the "severe-plus emergency" category.

Hours after Diwali celebrations, a thick haze enveloped Delhi-NCR as the air quality Thursday morning plunged to "hazardous" - Anand Vihar and areas around Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium recorded 999 AQI and Chanakyapuri 459 - exposing people to major health risks. While the time limit was flouted at many places, police were cracking down on revellers who were bursting crackers beyond the allotted time.

More gentle winds and cool air, which can trap pollution, exacerbate the problem.

The air quality started deteriorating rapidly from 7 pm on Wednesday. "Since the last few years, the noise level has been coming down".

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"While permissible limits for single crackers is 125 dB, a series of crackers (ladi) have limits between 90 dB and 110 dB, depending on the number of crackers put together".

Mustafa Mohammed, a student and cycling enthusiast, said he could feel the air quality dip drastically as he set out on Thursday to the India Gate in the heart of the city. Sunil Dahiya, a senior campaigner with Greenpeace India, said religious fervour was one of the reasons why people still let off fireworks despite mounting health concerns. "This is why, the day after Diwali, medical experts nearly always see a spike in respiratory disorders".

"The fire counts are seen to be very high but it is a combination of stubble burning and widespread firecrackers in that region and need not be confused with stubble only fire", it said in a report. "Wearing a mask, using air filters and staying indoors may help to some extent, but the only solution is to reduce pollution at the source".

A municipal worker with her daughter leaves after sweeping the India Gate area as a thick lawyer of pollution haze hangs a day after Diwali festival, in New Delhi, India, on November 8, 2018. But this year, the levels of the lead pollutant - PM 2.5 or fine particulate matter less than 2.5 microns that can penetrate the lungs and the bloodstream - were considerably less than the high levels registered in 2016.

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