How increase in PM2.5 pollutants is making Delhi a gas chamber


Delhi is among the most polluted cities in the world and ranked the world’s worst capital in terms of air quality. On its most polluted days, the smog can cut visibility on the roads to barely 50 metres. Levels of PM2.5 pollutants last week reached more than 30 times the maximum daily limit recommended by the World Health Organisation.

PM2.5 pollutants are microparticles very harmful to human health and can enter the bloodstream through the lungs. PM 2.5 refers to a category of a particulate pollutant that is 2.5 microns or smaller in size. Particles that are 2.5 microns or smaller are considered especially dangerous to human health because they bypass many of our body’s defenses.

Stinging eyes, an unrelenting cough and chronic lung disease are some of the severe issues faced by people who are directly exposed to the pollutants. Every year towards the end the city faces a problem of smog. 

Factory emissions, vehicle exhausts and stubble burning from farms in neighbouring states combine to severely impact the air quality of Delhi which is a city of 20 million people. Piecemeal efforts to mitigate the smog, such as a public campaign, ‘Red Light On, Gadi Off’ encouraging drivers to turn off their engines at traffic lights, have failed to make an impact.

This week authorities ordered six of the 11 coal power plants in Delhi’s vicinity to close down until further notice. Schools and colleges have been shut down for an indefinite period of time. Trucks except those carrying essential goods have been barred from entering the city until next week.

The government sector employees have been asked to work from home while the private sector has also been encouraged to do so. However, the state government has not implemented the Supreme Court’s advise to declare the first ‘pollution lockdown’ in Delhi.

Smog is said to be the cause of more than a million deaths in India annually. University of Chicago study found that air pollution was likely to reduce life expectancy by more than nine years for four in every 10 Indians.

(With Agency Inputs)

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