Delhi’s air pollution worsens: the air quality index reaches 470 out of 500

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New Delhi: India’s Federal Pollution Control Authority has ordered states and local authorities to be “fully ready” for emergency measures to address New Delhi’s worsening smog conditions due to the drop in temperature and wind speed.

A thick haze of toxic smog loomed over the Indian capital, exacerbated by a spike in the burning of crop waste on surrounding farmland.

It reduced visibility and the air quality index (AQI) reached 470 on a scale of 500, according to the federal pollution control committee. This level of pollution means that the air will affect healthy people and severely impact those with existing diseases.

The morning mist envelops the New Delhi skyline.  The city's air quality index hit 470 on a scale of 500 on Friday.

The morning mist envelops the New Delhi skyline. The city’s air quality index hit 470 on a scale of 500 on Friday.Credit:AP

According to the Pollution Authority’s Graded Response Action Plan, air quality that remains “severe” for 48 hours must push states and local authorities to impose emergency measures that include school closures, of “even and odd” restrictions on private cars based on their number plates, and stop all construction.

In a late evening circular on Friday, Delhi time, the council said government and private offices should reduce the use of private transportation by 30% and advised city residents to limit exposure to ‘open.

“Weather conditions will be very unfavorable for pollutant dispersal until November 18, 2021, in view of light winds with calm conditions overnight,” the council said.

Earlier this week, local authorities had ordered the brick kilns to be closed, the frequency of mechanized cleaning increased, and a crackdown on waste burning and dust.

The concentration of poisonous particulate matter PM2.5 averaged 329 micrograms per cubic meter of air. The government prescribes a “safe” reading of PM2.5 at 60 micrograms per cubic meter of air for a period of 24 hours.

PM2.5 is small enough to penetrate deep into the lungs, enter the bloodstream, and can cause severe respiratory disease, including lung cancer.

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