Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: The national capital has been faced with 'severe' air quality for more than a week following Diwali's fireworks, prompting warnings of a health 'emergency' in the world's most polluted city.
As per reports, the 24-hour-average (rolling) of PM 2.5 and PM 10 came down to 295 and 474 micrograms per cubic metre in Delhi on Tuesday, which means that the Air Quality Index (AQI) graph continues to be in the "severe" category despite recording a steep fall.
The prescribed standards for PM 2.5 AQI is 60 and PM 10 is 100 respectively.
In fact, the level of PM 2.5 (particules measuring less than 2.5 microns) had peaked to 693 micrograms per cubic metre (ug/m3) on October 31, the day after Diwali.
Taking note of the enormity of alarming rise in pollution levels, the Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Centre to respond within 48 hours and give details about its policy or a 'disaster management plan' to deal with the prevailing situation in the national capital region.
To bring smog situation in Delhi and National Capital Region (NCR) under control, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Tuesday has slapped a ban on construction activities and stone crushing in the region for the next seven days.
Particulate matter, also called PM or soot, in air pollution can cause a number of health problems. It may be noted that small particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter pose the greatest problems, because they can get deep into your lungs, and some may even get into your bloodstream.
Studies have linked particulate matter to a variety of health problems. Here are five ways PM in air pollution affects your health:
- Particulate matter increases respiratory symptoms, such as irritation of the airways, coughing or difficulty breathing.
- Particulate matter aggravates the severity of chronic lung diseases, causing rapid loss of airway function.
- Particulate matter can be particularly harmful - not just to those with asthma and allergies, but children in particular.
- Exposure to air particulate matter is linked to various cardiovascular diseases, including heart attacks and irregular heartbeat.
- Particulate matter increases susceptibility to viral and bacterial pathogens leading to pneumonia in vulnerable persons.
As per an American study published in February, air pollution kills more than 5.5 million people around the world each year. Hence, countries need to tackle air pollution in a smart way to helpn reduce the burden of disease from stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and both chronic and acute respiratory diseases, including asthma.