Pollution levels spike across India on Diwali


Pollution levels spiked across India as the festival of lights rolled around. The signs were already present as the Delhi government had issued warnings as early as 12 October when it said that the “unabated” burning of crop residue in the neighbouring states and fireworks during Diwali may severely affect Delhi’s air quality, which had already entered the ‘poor’ zone.

Those fears were rendered true as online indicators of the pollution monitoring stations in Delhi glowed red, indicating ‘very poor’ air quality as the volume of ultra-fine particulates PM2.5 and PM10, which enter the respiratory system and manage to reach the bloodstream, sharply rose from around 7 pm. Real-time pollution data appeared alarming. The pollutants had violated the corresponding 24-hour safe limits of 60 and 100 respectively by up to 10 times.

According to SAFAR (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research), the 24-hour rolling average of PM2.5 and PM10 were 154 and 256 micrograms per cubic metre respectively at around 11 pm. It has forecast that the pollution levels will peak between 11 pm and 3 am.

At the same time, the air quality in the national capital was better than 2016, according to a data from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). The Air Quality Index (AQI) value on Thursday was 319, putting it in “very poor” category, while the AQI last Diwali (30 October) had touched “severe” level after recording an index value of 431. As per the AQI released by the CPCB at 4 pm, particulate matters were the major contributors to “very poor” air quality on Thursday.

The air quality in Kolkata had worsened even before the arrival of Kali Puja. Data collected from different sources on Tuesday and Wednesday midnight revealed a sharp spike in pollution. This was attributed to the bursting of crackers, which was probably triggered by the fear of impending rain. US consulate, which records PM2.5 count across the globe, found sudden spike in pollution after a long period of satisfactory ambient air quality. On Tuesday midnight, the PM2.5 count was recorded at 224g/m³ at its Park Street monitoring station

The news of increasing pollution comes in the backdrop of a study released by The Lancet medical journal on Friday which found that pollution is killing millions of people worldwide, mostly through the diseases it causes, including heart conditions, strokes and lung cancer. Almost all pollution-related deaths — around 92 percent — are in poor or middle-income countries, the research found. And in rapidly industrialising countries such as India, Pakistan, China, Bangladesh, Madagascar, pollution is linked to as many as a quarter of all fatalities. The study found that pollution was linked to around nine million deaths in 2015.



With inputs from agencies