How polluted is Delhi air?
India’s capital city suffers high levels of pollution. Delhi experienced its longest period of hazardous air pollution on record during late October and early November 2019. For nine consecutive days from Sunday, 27 October 2019, overall Delhi air quality was in the hazardous zone, a level at which the entire population is likely to be affected. On Nov. 3, the average concentration of fine particulate matter (also known as PM2.5) was 509.2 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3). This is 568 on the U.S. Air Quality Index and more than 50 times the World Health Organization’s recommended annual guideline. Some parts of the city experienced levels more than 150 times the guideline.
When is Delhi’s air pollution at its worst?
Air pollution in Delhi typically gets worse during the winter season from October to December, due to crop burning practices and weather changes.
What was the most polluted day recorded in Delhi?
The most polluted day in Delhi was Nov. 6, 2016 since public records began in January of that year. The U.S. Embassy in Delhi recorded a PM2.5 concentration level of 933 µg/m3.
Is Delhi the city with the worst air pollution?
In 2018, Delhi ranked 11 on IQAir AirVisual’s 2018 World Air Quality Report. No. 1 was polluted Gurugram, which is only about 30 kilometers from Delhi. In contrast, India’s financial hub Mumbai’s air quality had an annual PM2.5 average around half of Delhi’s.
In the same report, Delhi took the dubious honour of ranking no. 1 for the world’s most polluted capital city.
What are the causes of Delhi air pollution?
Delhi air pollution is mainly caused by industrial and vehicular emissions, dust, and waste burning.
Winter air pollution is particularly severe because farmers in surrounding areas burn stubble to clear land after the September harvest. This coincides with weather changes such as wind speeds dropping or less wind and rain that can help clear the pollution.
The popular practice of setting off firecrackers during Diwali celebrations – which typically takes place in October or November – usually contributes to worsening air quality. In 2019, despite efforts to encourage people to buy green firecrackers and watch laser shows instead, levels of fine particulate matter (also known as PM2.5) pollutants soared to 829.2 micrograms per cubic meter (ug/m3). This is more than 80 times the WHO recommended annual level.
What are the effects of air pollution in Delhi?
Delhi’s polluted air has resulted in health problems and disrupted the lives of 20 million residents. In November 2019, the government declared a public health emergency, temporarily ordering schools to close and nighttime construction activities to be stopped.
At times, heavy smog has affected air and road transport. On Nov. 3, 2019, dozens of flights were cancelled due to poor visibility.
During the elevated pollution levels, hospitals in Delhi reported higher numbers of patients with respiratory problems. Children, elderly, and those with respiratory ailments are especially vulnerable to the poor air quality.
In 2017 alone, India's air pollution was linked to the deaths of 1.24 million people, with 54 percent of the deaths caused by ambient air pollution and 46 percent of the deaths caused by household pollution such as solid cooking fuels. According to the study, air pollution deaths accounted for 12.5 percent of total deaths recorded that year.
How can air pollution in Delhi be reduced?
The critical first step to solve air pollution is making real-time air quality data available to everyone and increasing air quality data granularity. By knowing how much pollution they are breathing, people can take measures to protect themselves.
Air quality information is also important in raising public awareness and mobilising efforts to tackle air pollution.
The key to improving air pollution is reducing emissions. Indian authorities have launched the National Clean Air Program (NCAP) earlier this year, which aims to cut pollution in 102 of the most polluted cities by 20-30% by 2024. Under the NCAP, the government plans to cut industrial and transport emissions, reduce dust pollution, and impose stricter rules on biomass burning. There are also plans to upgrade and increase air monitoring systems.
Individuals can take steps in their daily life to reduce personal emissions by carpooling or taking public transport, switching to greener fuel alternatives, and more.
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