New Delhi: Of late, experts have raised concerns about poor air quality in the national capital. And now, prevailing high temperatures in Delhi have caused a steep rise in ozone levels.
According to the Indian Meteorological Department (MET), toxic ozone levels have breached the permissible limit in Delhi.
During the last two weeks, the level of toxic ozone in the national capital reached its peak when the temperature hovered above 40 degrees Celsius.
On Wednesday, the capital's air quality index (AQI) breached the 'severe' level, going from 219 (poor) to 410 in one of the sharpest single-day spikes in recent months.
Ozone can aggravate lung diseases such as asthma and chronic bronchitis and also inflame the airways, causing permanent lung damage in some people.
Experts said ultraviolet levels in Delhi too are way above safe standards.
Scientists said the dust storm early Thursday morning led to both PM10
(coarse pollution particles) as well as PM2.5 levels to peak dramatically.
Ozone and PM2.5 together can play havoc with people's health.
Scientists also found that PM2.5 reading were as high as 250 micrograms per cubic metres, more than four times the safe standard.
Recently, System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) along with the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) launched the Ultraviolet (UV) index for Delhi. It provides a forecast of the expected risk of overexposure to UV radiation from the sun.
SAFAR also found that the UV index for Delhi on Thursday was 7.2 while the safe range is 1 to 4.
Unlike western countries where surface ozone pollution is a major issue, Delhi's air quality problem is mainly due to particulate matters such as dust, dirt or smoke.
But, with rising temperatures the level of toxic ozone in Delhi has shot up in the last few years.