Like an annual ritual, the national capital's air quality plunged to hazardous levels on Diwali, enveloping the city with putrid, noxious smoke, and scarring the festival's otherwise benign spirit.
New Delhi's air quality was recorded at 42 times above normal in its most polluted parts on Sunday night, with small particulate matter PM 10 measurements at 4,273 µg/m³ at 10:55 pm, and PM 2.5 at 748µg/m³ at 2.30 am on Sunday, air quality data from the Delhi Pollution Control Committee, showed, Hindustan Times reported.
The prescribed standards of PM 2.5 and PM 10 are 60 and 100 respectively, and anything beyond that can harm the respiratory system as the ultra fine particulates can embed deep into the lungs and also enter the bloodstream.
The Centre's System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) recorded the level of respirable pollutants, PM 2.5 and PM 10, at 283 and 517 micrograms per cubic metre respectively around 8 PM, violating the safe limits by several hundred multiples.
SAFAR's monitoring stations at Pusa Road, Mathura Road, Dhirpur, Delhi University, Pitampura as well as neighbouring Noida had air quality in the 'severe' zone.
Air Quality Index recorded on Monday morning stood a 999, indicating 'hazardous' levels.
People have been advised not to go outdoors when air quality turns 'severe' as it has adverse effect especially on children, elders and those having heart or lung diseases.
Delhi Pollution Control Committee's (DPCC) real-time readings were also indicative of the increasing levels of pollution with the rise in the numbers of firecrackers going off.
Pollution peaks in the national capital during Diwali as a hazardous mix of noxious gases and respirable pollutants hang very close to the surface due to low temperature and near-stagnant wind movement.
Smoke emanating from farm fires raging across agricultural fields of neighbouring Punjab and Haryana worsens the situation.
Pollution levels were similarly severe in several other parts of the country as well. As of 9 am, Ahmedabad's air quality index stood at 713.
Firecracker pollution is a leading cause of the air pollution, particularly the dangerous small particulate matter.
According to a study by IndiaSpend, snake tablet contributed the highest amount of PM 2.5, followed by laad, pulpul, fuljhadi, chakri and anar.
The IndiaSpend study also analysed the firecracker pollution and compared it to the PM 2.5 emitted by a single cigarette in a closed room of 50 m³.
With PTI inputs