Quality of air in India’s northern gangetic regions has been alarmingly low off late, especially during mornings as due to moisture, lack of rain and winds, small dust particles called particulate matter (PM) continued to pollute. Southern India, however had a good air quality, as the PM settled down due to breeze and northeastern rains. However, these rains might be the cause of pollution across north India.
Mr. D. Saha, who works at Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), says “Moisture from south India is entering the north and trapping pollutants near the surface.” CPCB’s monitoring stations in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) recorded Air Quality Index (AQI) at 446 at 9.30 AM, one day last week! Data from 12 out of 19 such stations, showed poor air quality in the NCR.
The city of Delhi, with its AQI at 397, reached its worst pollution level. Its air quality continued to be awful, at around the levels of 400 to 500. However, Uttar Pradesh’s Moradabad, left Delhi behind, with its AQI touching 478! Also, the entire NCR woke up to a smoggy and cool weather on Tuesday, with visibility being just 200 metres at 8.30 AM in the morning. Saha said, that a low level of sulphur dioxide in the air caused the fog.
Burning of crop residue called ‘Parali’, in the states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, has also significantly contributed to the condition, which is expected to continue till the end of winters. People living in Noida and Ghaziabad are also suffering from precarious situation, due to pollution, which is not expected to improve anytime sooner.
Being center of electronic waste recycling, Moradabad’s air has become polluted due to discarding of waste inappropriately by the industries. As moisture of south Indian rains locks PM in the air, and lack of winds, the situation is critical. The level of PM 2.5 has gone up to 600 µg/m3 (micrograms per metre cube). This is 10 times greater than safe levels! Breathing such air results in heart and lung diseases, and complicates problems of those already suffering.