Delhi gasped for a breath this morning as the Air Quality Index (AQI) re-entered the “severe” category in several areas, shortly after the bursting of firecrackers across the National Capital Region on Diwali wiped out the improvement in air quality due to a spell of rain.
This morning, Delhi residents woke up to a choking smog cover that reduced visibility and intensified their struggle to breathe.
The AQI in the national capital, which had slipped to “very poor” yesterday as smoke from firecrackers joined air pollution due to stubble burning in north India, has now deteriorated further, data from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) showed.
While the air quality index in ITO was pegged at 430 at 6 AM, the AQI in Jahangirpuri was recorded at 428, according to the CPCB data.
The AQI in RK Puram was 417, while in Punjabi Bagh, it was 410.
An AQI between zero and 50 is considered “good”, 51 and 100 “satisfactory”, 101 and 200 “moderate”, 201 and 300 “poor”, 301 and 400 “very poor”, and 401 and 500 “severe”.
While an AQI level of 400-500 impacts healthy people and seriously impacts those with existing diseases, an AQI level of 301-400 causes respiratory illness on prolonged exposure.
An AQI level of 201-300 and 150-200 may bring discomfort to people with lungs, asthma, and heart diseases.
Earlier on Monday, the 24-hour average AQI in Delhi was recorded at 358 (very poor), the CPCB said.
Most real-time air monitoring platforms this morning pegged the air quality index (AQI) above 500, with some places reaching as high as 900. Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium recorded an AQI of 910, Lajpat Nagar 959, and Karol Bagh 779 around 6 am.
The capital city saw an AQI of 312 on Diwali last year, 382 in 2021, 414 in 2020, 337 in 2019, 281 in 2018, 319 in 2017, and 431 in 2016, according to the CPCB data.
Air quality in Delhi and other parts of north India deteriorates every year ahead of winter when cold air traps pollutants from vehicles, industry, construction dust, and stubble burning.