Air Pollution in Delhi Again Reaches ‘Severe’ Levels

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has forecast light rainfall at isolated places in Delhi over the weekend which might bring down pollution levels

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Air Pollution
Delhi air pollution again reaches 'severe' levels. Pixabay

Owing to a rise in humidity and light winds, the overall air quality of the national capital slipped to the ‘severe’ zone on Saturday, despite the authorities predicting it would remain in the ‘very poor’ category.

“Calm winds along with a spike in humidity levels because of an induced Cyclonic Circulation over Northern Plains are the major contributors for a hike in pollution levels in Delhi and adjoining areas,” Mahesh Palawat, Director at private weather forecasting agency Skymet told IANS.

He said that the pollution levels might increase in the coming days as humidity levels are expected to go up due to rains in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.

“Around January 13 and 14, moderate to dense fog is expected to make a comeback, which will result in high pollution levels and minimums will see a drop by a couple of degrees,” he said.

However, the Skymet Director said that post January 15, the air quality might start improving due to cold, north-westerly winds which will blow over the plains of the country.

The System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR), in its daily pollution analysis, has been maintaining that the air quality in Delhi won’t go beyond the ‘very poor’ category.

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A man rides his bicycle in front of the India Gate shrouded in smog in New Delhi, Dec. 26, 2018. VOA

On Saturday however, many areas in Delhi and adjoining areas at 12 p.m recorded ‘severe’ levels of toxic particulate matter (PM) 2.5.

Anand Vihar at 448, Dwarka sector-8 at 450, ITO at 413, Mundka at 438, Delhi University North Campus at 416, R.K. Puram at 415, and Wazirpur at 434 – all recorded ‘severe’ levels of PM2.5.

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Other areas like Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Ashok Vihar, Burari Crossing, Vivek Vihar, Sirifort, Okhla Phase-2 also fared in the same category.

On Wednesday and Thursday, Delhi-NCR witnessed its first better days of the year with the air quality recorded in the ‘poor’ zone.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has forecast light rainfall at isolated places in Delhi over the weekend which might bring down pollution levels. (IANS)

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Risk of Multiple Sclerosis High in Urbanites due to Air Pollution

Air pollution could be a risk factor for the development of multiple sclerosis (MS) among urbanites, says researcher

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Air pollution may up multiple sclerosis risk in urbanites. Pixabay

Air pollution could be a risk factor for the development of multiple sclerosis (MS), say researchers, adding that MS risk was 29 per cent higher among people residing in urbanised areas.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease in which the immune system eats away at the protective covering of nerves. Whilst MS can be diagnosed at any age, it frequently occurs between the ages of 20-40 and is more frequent in women.

Symptoms can change in severity daily and include fatigue, walking difficulty, numbness, pain and muscle spasms. The study, presented at the European Academy of Neurology (EAN) Virtual Congress, detected a reduced risk for MS in individuals residing in rural areas that have lower levels of air pollutants known as particulate matter (PM).

According to the researchers, it is well recognised that immune diseases such as MS are associated with multiple factors, both genetic and environmental. “We believe that air pollution interacts through several mechanisms in the development of MS and the results of this study strengthen that hypothesis,” said study lead researcher Professor Roberto Bergamaschi from the IRCCS Mondino Foundation in Italy.

Particulate matter (PM) is used to describe a mixture of solid particles and droplets in the air and is divided into two categories. PM10 includes particles with a diameter of 10 micrometres of smaller and PM2.5 which have a diameter of 2.5 micrometres or smaller.  Both PM10 and PM2.5 are major pollutants and are known to be linked to various health conditions, including heart and lung disease, cancer and respiratory issues.

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Air pollution could be a risk factor for the development of multiple sclerosis. Pixabay

The analysis was conducted in the winter, given that this is the season with the highest pollutant concentrations, in the north-western Italian region of Lombardy, home to over 547,000 people.

For the findings, the research team included over 900 MS patients within the region, and MS rates were found to have risen 10-fold in the past 50 years, from 16 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in 1974 to almost 170 cases per 100,000 people today. Whilst the huge increase can partly be explained by increased survival for MS patients, this sharp increase could also be explained by greater exposure to risk factors.

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“In the higher risk areas, we are now carrying out specific analytical studies to examine multiple environmental factors possibly related to the heterogeneous distribution of MS risk”, Professor Bergamaschi said. (IANS)

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Here’s How You Can Reduce Indoor Pollution and Chances of Asthma While in Lockdown

Poor Ventilation is a primary cause of Indoor pollution

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Indoor Air Pollution is increasing day by day while we are at home due to the lockdown. Pixabay

Indoor air pollution is a major global public health problem. According to reports, the concentration of indoor pollutants can be many times higher as compared to outdoor, primarily due to poor ventilation.

Now that people are spending most of their time indoors with the current COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown measures, exposure to indoor pollution becomes a major health concern, points out Dr. Prashant Chhajed, HOD-Respiratory Medicine, Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi and Fortis Hospital, Mulund.

What are the causes of Indoor pollution?

Particles >10 em are usually removed at the upper airways, whereas those <10 em may be deposited in the airways and alveoli, informs the expert. Some bio-aerosols of concern in homes are indoor allergens i.e. dust mites, pet allergens, cockroaches, molds. Other common reasons of indoor pollution he underlines:

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Smoke from incense sticks, dhoop, etc is a reason of indoor pollution. Pixabay

Environmental tobacco smoke

Cooking using bio mass fuel

Cleaning and renovation activities

Unvented gas and Kerosene heaters used indoors

Smoke from incense sticks, dhoop, etc.

Burning of Camphor and mosquito coils

These are of major concern for an asthma patient, as they can aggravate their asthma and lead to flare ups.

Decreasing air pollution at home to reduce the likelihood of Asthma flare ups is easy to achieve. Dr Chhajed recommends few ways to reduce indoor air pollution:

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You can reduce the likelihood of Asthma by decreasing air pollution at home. One way to achieve this is proper ventilation. Pixabay

Stop smoking

Use fragrance-free household products

Minimize carpeting in the home

Use of an exhaust hood while cooking is a must

Keep the windows open and keep the house well ventilated

Dehumidifiers and air conditioning may help prevent mold and also help to reduce dust mites, which don’t survive at humidity levels below 35%

Air purifiers or filters may help to take care of the pet dander that is light-weight and floats in air.

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Vacuum cleaning carpets and upholstery regularly can also help to reduce dust mites and dust particles

Washing bedding, cushion covers, blankets regularly helps to keep these allergens under control

Avoid burning incense sticks and dhoop at home. (IANS)

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COVID-19 Effect: Population of Birds has Surged in India

India witnesses surge in bird population amid lockdown

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The lockdown has resulted in an increase in the population of birds in the country. Pixabay

By AAKANKSHA KHAJURIA

Due to the reduction in air and noise pollution pursuant to the imposition of the nationwide lockdown to fight the Covid-19 outbreak, the population of birds and butterflies has surged significantly across the country.

“The lockdown has resulted in an increase in the population of birds in the country. Resident birds are breeding much more than before due to less human activity, no noise and air pollution,” wildlife biologist Faiyaz Khudsar said.

Clanking of machinery in factories, buzzing of car horns and whirring of vehicular engines have now been replaced by chirping of birds in the dawn and the dusk.

birds population India
There is less human population, aircraft are grounded and no vehicles ply on the road, birds tend to increase their flight or retain their historical geographical ranges. “Lockdown is a good time for birds.” Pixabay

Khudsar, who is also the scientist in-charge at the Yamuna Biodiversity Park (YBP), said that due to the reduction in noise pollution, bird mating calls and songs are being understood by its mates clearly.

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“Vocalisation is very important. When there is less noise pollution, it is very easy for birds to express themselves. Otherwise, there are many studies which suggest that due to noise pollution, birds sometimes fail to reach their mates,” Khudsar said.

He also said that at a place where there is less human population, aircraft are grounded and no vehicles ply on the road, birds tend to increase their flight or retain their historical geographical ranges. “Lockdown is a good time for birds,” he said, smiling.

birds population India
Due to the reduction in air and noise pollution pursuant to the imposition of the nationwide lockdown to fight the Covid-19 outbreak, the population of birds and butterflies has surged significantly across the country. Pixabay

Khudsar also alluded to the effect of air pollution on butterflies and said that heavy metals emitted from the vehicles and haze increases their mortality. “Due to reduction in sulphur dioxide toxicity, flocks of ePioneer’ butterflies are flying around and are breeding more than ever before,” he said.

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Vikrant Tongad, environment conservationist and founder of Social Action for Forest and Environment (SAFE), expressed happiness over the increase in the population of birds and butterflies, but rued over the maintainability of the current situation post the lockdown period.

“The rosy situation we see today is part of our policies, but there is lack of implementation in the country. We should move towards green energy; people should be made aware and policies should be implemented,” Tongad suggested. (IANS)