Residents of Delhi woke up this morning to see their city covered in toxic smog. This was after thousands of revelers flouted the ban on fireworks during the Hindu festival.
On Friday morning, India’s Air Quality Index surged, reaching 459 on a scale of 500, indicating “severe” air pollution – the highest figure recorded this year. Waqi.info, an online resource reported Friday’s contamination to be at least 10x higher in Delhi than it was in London.
Extremely high levels of PM2.5 poisonous particulate matter, which is known to cause respiratory and cardiovascular disease, were also recorded. According to Reuters information, though the World Health Organization has declared PM2.5 levels exceedingly dangerous at five micrograms annually, in Delhi, a 20-million strong metropolis, its citywide average was 706 micrograms. According to the Indian Express, PM2.5 levels reached a staggering 1,553 micrograms on Friday morning.
Twitter photos of Delhi show dense white fog above the capital with reduced visibility.
#INPICSDelhi-NCR Air Quality turns “hazardous” Post Diwali: ‘Itchy, watery eyes’ Delhi’s air quality is expected to rise after the Diwali celebrations. PM2.5 levels rose to 774.69 on Friday morning.| ‘Itchy throats, watery eyes’: Post Diwali, Delhi-NCR air turns ‘hazardous’Delhi’s air quality expectedly crossed the “hazardous” mark on Diwali evening and the morning after with PM2.5 pollution levels shooting to 774.69 at 3am on Friday pic.twitter.com/1eQEfqENfL
— The Times Of India (@timesofindia) November 5, 2021
Layers of thick smog blankets #Delhi. Overall air quality remains in ‘very poor’ category’ as per the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR)-India.Visuals from near Akshardham Temple.(ANI) pic.twitter.com/D3HTzawpk9
— NDTV (@ndtv) November 5, 2021
Delhi has the worst air quality of all world capitals, but Friday’s readings were particularly bad because city residents had celebrated Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, on Thursday night. Many residents had broken the prohibition on fireworks and added toxic fumes that to an already polluted air.
While the practice is highly restricted, stubble fires – the process of intentionally setting fire to leftover crops to prepare for the next cycle – also contributes to the deadly levels of air pollution at this time of year. Diwali falls at the same time as fireworks, since the celebration is celebrated after the harvest season.
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According to SAFAR, an air-quality monitoring initiative under the auspices of the federal Ministry of Earth Sciences, stubble fires contribute around 35% of Delhi’s PM2.5 levels.
Residents were warned not to exercise on Friday and not to go on walks. The agency stated that dust masks are not sufficient to protect the eyes and recommended that residents close all windows and have their homes wet-mopped.
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