With the monsoon season ending early for Delhi, residents of the city will have to deal with elevated levels of pollution a month ahead of schedule. The air quality began to decline starting from around August 28 and is now currently in the ‘poor’ zone.
This shift normally occurs in the dying days of September, when moisture levels have reduced and pollutants become more dominant. Thanks to the rains drying up prematurely this year, Delhi citizens will be exposed to the bad air for a longer period of time than they normally do.
As per data provided by the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting Research (SAFAR), the levels of PM 2.5 (fine pollution particles) have been steadily rising since August 26. The corresponding period of time back in 2013, when Delhi had a regular monsoon, had a much superior degree of air quality.
This information is corroborated by the Air Quality Index (AQI), prepared by the Central Pollution Control Board. According to the Times of India, the AQI pointed towards a ‘poor’ air quality on September 2 and 3. Extended exposure to low air quality could result in breathing difficulties for Delhi’s populace.
The main reasons behind the drop in quality were the high concentrations of PM 2.5 and PM 10 (coarse pollution particles). Sources at the Delhi Pollution Control Committee stated that the former was up to 90 micrograms per cubic meter when the standard is 60, while the latter stood at roughly 400 micrograms per cubic meter when the normal level is 100.
Both the centre and the state government have made a number of promises to keep Delhi’s air pollution levels in check. Most have not been followed through. Researchers at the NGO Centre for Science and Environment warned that PM 2.5 levels would begin accelerating in October if steps to reduce it were not taken.