New Delhi: Delhi's air quality hit a new low on Saturday with particulate matters and level of Benzene spiking astronomically in few pockets of the city with Anand Vihar showing the maximum PM 2.5 at 716 microgram per cubic metre, nearly 12 times higher than the permissible limit.
As the day progressed, the capital came under a blanket of thick smog, a phenomenon resulting out of multiple factors including increased moisture levels due to the recent western disturbances, burning of crop stubble in neighbouring states and local emissions.
The level of Benzene, exposure to which can have long term adverse health effects including cancer, was alarmingly high at Anand Vihar and few other residential areas like Civil Lines and RK Puram.
At Anand Vihar, Benzene was over 5 times the safe limit at 27.5 microgram per cubic metre while five microgram per cubic metre is the prescribed limit.
RK Puram and Civil Lines showed the levels at 11.1 and 22.06 at around 2 PM as per the readings of Delhi Pollution Control Committee.
"The situation is likely to persist till November 9. On the 10th there is a possibility of western disturbance which will disperse the pollutants to some extent. But the current situation is also due to the recent showers which also brought a lot of moisture in the air," a senior IMD official said.
The reading stations of System of Air Quality and weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) showed average PM 2.5 and PM 10 levels at 272 and 330 respectively, which fall under its "very poor" category.
At Delhi University PM 2.5 was at 340 while PM 10 was at 327 around 2.30 PM. In west Delhi's Pitampura, which has shown consistently high pollution levels, the readings were 304 and 298 respectively.
Suspended particulate matters, PM 2.5 and PM 10, can penetrate deep into the lungs. Once inhaled they have the potential to cause severe damage to the respiratory system.
SAFAR officials observed that bursting of firecrackers during Diwali will shoot up the level of pollution, which has already assumed severe proportions with the onset of winter and subsequent fall in temperature which traps the pollutants at a lower level in the atmosphere.
According to a World Health Organisation (WHO) report released in May last year, Delhi was ranked as the most polluted city in the world.
A recent study, led by the University of Surrey in UK, identified several factors including a "toxic blend of geography", growth, poor energy sources and unfavourable weather for the situation in the national capital.