Toxic Haze Chokes Delhi, Surrounding Areas As Air Quality Remains "Severe"

A suffocating blanket of toxic smog continued to cloak Delhi today, prompting doctors to raise concerns about the growing number of respiratory and eye ailments.

Toxic Haze Chokes Delhi, Surrounding Areas As Air Quality Remains 'Severe'

Delhi's air quality is one of the worst among capital cities globally.

New Delhi:

Delhi's air remained severely polluted for the third consecutive day on Saturday morning with an Air Quality Index (AQI) of 504. Despite a slight improvement in pollution levels overnight due to increased wind speeds, the concentration of toxic PM2.5 in the national capital and its surrounding areas remained more than 80 times the World Health Organisation's limit.

A suffocating blanket of toxic smog continued to cloak Delhi today, prompting doctors to raise concerns about the growing number of respiratory and eye ailments among children and the elderly.

Microscopic PM2.5 particles, which can lodge deep in the lungs and cause health problems, soared to seven to eight times the government's safe limit of 60 micrograms per cubic metre in multiple locations across Delhi-NCR. This was 80 to 100 times higher than the WHO's safe limit of 5 micrograms per cubic meter.

Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai implored Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav to take proactive measures to combat the worsening air quality in the national capital region, emphasising that entire North India is struggling with air pollution.

Quoting a study by the independent think tank Centre for Science and Environment, he said that neighboring states contribute 69 percent of Delhi's air pollution.

"While we (Delhi) are taking all possible steps to address the problem, no one knows what the environment ministers of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana are doing," he said.

"The effect of the Delhi government's steps is visible. If we talk about pollution throughout the year, in 2015 there were only 109 days when the air quality was good, this year it has been good for more than 200 days," Mr Rai added.

Delhi-NCR's air quality plummeted over the past week due to falling temperatures, stagnant winds that stifled pollution dispersion, and a surge in post-harvest paddy stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana.

Delhi's AQI skyrocketed by more than 200 points between October 27 and November 3, plummeting into the "severe plus" category (above 450) on Friday, according to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data. A slight improvement was seen from 468 at 4 pm on Friday to 413 at 6 am on Saturday, but the 24-hour average AQI of 468 on Friday was the worst since November 12, 2021.

Delhi's air quality is one of the worst among capital cities globally, with a University of Chicago report finding that air pollution reduces life expectancy by almost 12 years. Delhi once again topped the real-time list of the world's most polluted cities, compiled by Swiss air quality technology company IQAir. The national capital's AQI was over 600 in some areas on Friday, which is considered "hazardous." The second on this list, by some distance, was Pakistan's Lahore with an AQI of 335.

In neighbouring Noida, the air quality plummeted to the "severe" category, with an AQI of 576. Sectors 116 and 62 recorded AQIs of 426 and 428, respectively, according to the CPCB. Similarly, Gurgaon's air quality remained in the "severe" category, with an AQI of 512.

.