A ‘very poor’ air quality index essentially means that people may suffer from respiratory illnesses on a prolonged exposure to such air
The online indicators of the pollution monitoring stations in the city glowed red, indicating a ‘very poor’ air quality as the volume of ultrafine particulates PM 2.5 and PM 10, which enter the respiratory system and manage to reach the bloodstream, sharply rose from around 7 pm.
At 10 pm, in Mandir Marg in Delhi, the PM 2.5 concentration was 390 units against the prescribed 60 units, while PM 10 was 480 against the prescribed 100.
Real-time pollution data appeared alarming. The Delhi Pollution Control Committee’s (DPCC) R K Puram monitoring station recorded PM 2.5 and PM 10 at 878 and 1,179 micrograms per cubic metre at around 11 pm.
However, the nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide concentrations at 50.84 and 31.20 respectively were well under the prescribed limits.
The pollutants had violated the corresponding 24-hour safe limits of 60 and 100 respectively by up to 10 times.
While it is difficult to quantify the immediate effect of the ban on firecrackers, residents across the national capital felt the beginning was promising with neighborhoods reporting much lesser noise and smoke till about 6 pm, compared to the previous years.
But as the festivities picked up, the faint echo of crackers started growing louder.
According to the 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.