According to System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) of the Ministry of Earth Science, the air quality in the National capital region will be “severe” on October 30 and 31 and “worst” on October 31.
The Air Quality Index (AQI) will be 443 on Sunday, or the Diwali day, and reach 472 the day after. The AQI between 300 to 400 is rated as very poor, and above 400 is rated as severe.
“The highest levels of PM10 and PM2.5 are expected between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on the night of October 30 and 31. The air quality will be worst on October 31 and will start to improve from November 1,” says the SAFAR forecast.
There is enough moisture in the air and winds are stagnant, and atmospheric holding capacity of the emissions coming from firecrackers has increased. The highest levels of PM10 and PM2.5 are expected between 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. on the night of October 30-31.
PM10 is particulate matter 10 micrometers or less in diameter and PM2.5 is particulate matter 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter.
While Noida is expected to be the most polluted area, Lodhi Road in Delhi is expected to be least polluted.
Incidentally, the levels of particulate matter were significantly low in 2016 as compared to 2014 and 2015, but since October 25, started to become significantly higher.
Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) Senior Scientist M.P. George attributed paddy stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana for this year’s Diwali being more polluted than in 2014 and 2015.
“One of the chief reasons behind this Diwali being significantly more polluted than last two years, is crop burning in Punjab and Haryana,” said George.
“While every year around this time, farmers in Haryana and Punjab set paddy stubble ablaze to prepare for the next crop season, the pollution this year has been more,” he said .
As per SAFAR health advisory, when the AQI is severe, people should avoid all physical activity outdoors.