Diwali fireworks push air pollution to ‘severe’ level in India’s capital

Delhi air quality shoots to 'hazardous' category as residents flout Diwali firecracker curbs

The online indicators of the pollution monitoring stations indicated "poor" and "very poor" air quality as the volume of ultra-fine particulates PM2.5 and PM10, which enter the respiratory system and reach the bloodstream, sharply rose from around 8 pm. Meteorology, as well as stubble burning, makes a huge difference in Delhi's air quality in late October and November.

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. New Delhi topped the chart with air quality index (AQI) recorded at 420.

A "severe plus emergency" AQI essentially means that even healthy people could suffer from respiratory illnesses like asthma on prolonged exposure. Patiala, Khanna and Rupnagar, had recorded 150, 186, and 83 AQI on Diwali day respectively which had gone upto, 264, 208 and 146 on Diwali night.

As per reports, people in Delhi-NCR on Wednesday continued to burst crackers on Diwali well past the 10 pm deadline despite the Supreme Court's directive. These indices measure the concentration of tiny poisonous particulate matter.

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.

On 6 November, a day before Diwali, Delhi's air quality was 418 which is "hazardous" at 11am.

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The apparent lack of concern about the toxic air - whether through ignorance or apathy - gives politicians the cover they need for failing to address the problem, say environmental activists and others. Preliminary data revealed that pollution levels had increased noticeably by Thursday night.

The Supreme Court had allowed bursting of crackers from 8 pm to 10 pm on Diwali.

The "hazardous" figure is roughly 33 times the World Health Organization safe limit of 25 and health experts advise people to stay indoors or use masks for protection.

Delhi has failed spectacularly in preventing the air quality from falling into the "severe-plus emergency" category the morning after Diwali.

The court had said police should ensure that there was no sale of banned firecrackers and in case of any violation, the Station House Officer of the area police station would be held liable and this would amount to committing contempt of the court.

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