The lowdown on NCR’s air quality

What is it?How did it come about?Why does it matter?What lies ahead? Swinging between ‘poor’ and ‘very poor’ air quality for the past two weeks, the National Capital Region seems set for another lung-clogging winter this year. Figures released by the Union Health Ministry early this week showed the total emissions of Particulate Matter (PM) less than 2.5 micrometre in diameter increased by 15% in 2018, compared to 2010. Government figures show the levels of PM 2.5, a known carcinogenic, have gone up, with the transport sector contributing 40%, and wind-blown dust from road and other sources 21.5%. The Central Pollution Control Board said PM 10 levels mid-week this time stood at 326.8 micrograms per cubic metre, three times higher than the prescribed limit. “Dropped wind speed, change in the direction of wind to northwest bringing in pollution from stubble- burning in Punjab and Haryana, increasing vehicular traffic owing to the festive season, lowered temperature, garbage dumping and waste burning are contributing to the rising pollution levels in the city,” said a senior official of the Ministry. Winter air will turn more toxic soon, warned Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director, Research and Advocacy, Centre For Science and Environment, due to toxic emissions from vehicles, industrial units, waste-burning, land-fill fires, and dust from construction and roads and stubble- burning. Current data from the Ministry of Earth Sciences show vehicles and industrial share in Delhi’s air pollution has increased over time by 40% and 48% respectively. There is, however, some relief expected from the closure of the Badarpur power plant, generator sets, and brick kilns and also from the ban on pet coke and furnace oil and introduction of BSVI fuels in Delhi, she said. The present air quality has become a threat to the people. High pollution levels directly harm skin. It can cause watering of eyes and nose. Smaller particles less than 2.5 micron can directly enter our body through the respiratory pathway. Sandeep Nayar, head of the department, respiratory medicine, allergy & sleep disorder, BLK Super Speciality Hospital, said: “The immediate symptoms include breathlessness, cough, fever and even choking sensation. Our nervous system also gets affected and we may have headache and dizziness. Nausea and vomiting may occur. Studies have shown direct harmful effect of pollution on our heart also.” Within a week of pollution spiking, Delhi has registered a jump in the number of patients coming to out-patient departments. Dr. Puneet Khanna, interventional pulmonology, respiratory and sleep medicine, Aakash Healthcare Super Specialty Hospital, said that with winter approaching, smog increases in Delhi. This causes a rise in cardiac risks such as heart attack and chest pain.

Source : https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/the-lowdown-on-ncrs-air-quality/article25276339.ece

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