Wednesday November 13, 2019

Was the Ban on Sale of Firecrackers in Delhi Successful? Data on Pollution Levels in Delhi Say Otherwise

Despite the much talked about cracker-ban, pollution monitoring stations placed the capital in the ‘red zone’, indicating ‘very poor’ air quality.

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While the ban on crackers imposed by the Supreme Court aimed to reduce pollution levels in Delhi, figures from pollution monitoring system paint an unhealthy picture with amplified levels of air pollution. (Representative image) Pixabay

New Delhi, October 20, 2017: The Supreme Court had on October 9 banned the sale of firecrackers in Delhi during Diwali in order to counter the pollution, deteriorating air quality and smog-like conditions that have come to be associated with the festival in recent times.

While a radical change was not expected following the ban on firecrackers, a humble and promising beginning could be witnessed on Diwali with majority areas in Delhi reporting much lesser noise and smoke till 6 PM, compared to previous years.

However, as the festive spirit picked up from 7 PM onwards, the hopes for a pollution-free Diwali got lost behind the growing echo of the crackers.

Pollution Levels on Diwali

Despite the much talked about the ban on firecrackers, pollution monitoring stations placed the capital in the ‘red zone’, indicating ‘very poor’ air quality. According to the stats available, on Diwali day around 7 pm, online indicators showed a rising trend in the volume of cancer-causing ultra-fine particulates PM2.5 and PM10 that are capable of entering the respiratory system and reach the bloodstream.

PM2.5 and PM10 are the extremely fine particulate matter with the digits representing their diameter in micrometers. They are a major component of air pollutants that threaten both, our health and the environment at large.

ALSO READ 10 Quick Facts About Delhi Pollution Problem

However, data from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) suggested that the air quality in Delhi on Diwali was better than last year.

On Thursday, the Air Quality Index (AQI) value was 319 which placed the city in the ‘very poor’ category. However, the AQI value on Diwali last year was 431 and the city was placed in the ‘severe’ category.

According to data from SAFAR (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research), the 24-hour rolling average at around 11 PM was revealed as 154 and 256 micrograms per cubic meter for PM2.5 and PM10 respectively.

According to SAFAR data, pollution levels were expected to soar between 11 PM and 3 AM.

Pollution Levels in the Morning after Diwali

As the night progressed, PM2.5 levels recorded a sharp rise in multiple areas in and around Delhi, with 15 times increase in areas like India Gate

As per data from Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), PM2.5 levels at 6 AM in,

India Gate – 911 microns (Normal level – 60 microns)

RK Puram – 776 microns (13 times more than usual)

Ashoka Vihar – 820 microns (14 times more than normal)

Anand Vihar – 617 microns (10 times more than normal)

A sharp rise was observed in the PM10 levels in the early hours of the morning after Diwali which suggest hazardous pollution levels in Delhi.

As per data from Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), PM10 levels at 6 AM in,

India Gate – 985 microns

RK Puram – 1083 (11 times more than usual)

Anand Vihar – 2402 microns (24 times more than normal. Normal level is considered around 100 microns)

While the ban on firecrackers imposed by the Supreme Court aimed to reduce pollution levels in Delhi, figures from pollution monitoring system paint an unhealthy picture with amplified levels of air pollution.

Official figures from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) are yet to be announced today. However, judging from the data available, it won’t be wrong to say that pollution levels in Delhi have increased post-Diwali.

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Alarming Pollution Levels Causing Eye Problems in Delhi

"See an eye doctor as soon as possible and avoid prolonged exposure of eyes to pollution," the experts added

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Delhi air quality continues to be 'very poor'. VOA

With pollution levels reaching alarming levels in the national capital, ophthalmologists have observed a sharp rise in the number of patients suffering from eye problems including allergy, burning and itching.

According to Ikeda Lal, an opthalmologist at the Delhi Eye Centre and Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in New Delhi, pollutants and dust in the air is one of the major reasons for causing eye allergy and other related problems.

“We are observing an increase in number of patients coming to us with complains of redness, itching, watering in the eyes. Patients with pre-existing dry eyes are experiencing exacerbation due to high pollution,” Lal said.

He added that opthalmologists were observing almost increase of 30-35 per cent in the number of patients coming with eye-related problems.

“Due to increasing pollution, there is increase in the incidence of dry eye and ocular allergy. This is causing discomfort even in normal eyes and aggravates the eye complaints in eyes that are prone to dryness and allergies,” said Rajesh Sinha, Professor of Ophthalmology, AIIMS.

“If care is not taken immediately, some of these eyes can have reduced vision due to this problem as well,” he added.

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People in India are also at a risk of developing cardiovascular diseases due to the air pollution. Pixabay

Lal also said that people with complains of itching in the eyes are likely to suffer from allergic eye disease.

Patients with pre-existing dry eyes may experience excessive dryness, irritation and burning due to ocular surface inflammation.

In case of any eye related problems, consulting an ophthalmologist is recommended and exposure to polluted air should be minimized, the doctor said.

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To deal with eye related allergies caused due to pollution, Doctors suggests that do not rub eyes if they itch, wash eyes with clean water; repeat if it still feels uncomfortable, cold compresses also help in relieving mild itching.

“See an eye doctor as soon as possible and avoid prolonged exposure of eyes to pollution,” the experts added. (IANS)