Delhi and neighboring cities witnessed a thick layer of pollutants in the atmosphere , taking the pollution level to ‘severe’ category. Health experts have warned that prolonged exposure to this toxic air can cause serious health problems. The national capital’s air quality turned ‘severe’ on Thursday morning as the city’s overall air quality index (AQI) stood at 418, according to the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) data.

By evening, however, the overall air quality index worsened and rose to 458, according to SAFAR data.

According to SAFAR data, the PM 2.5 and PM 10 concentrations were 458 and 433 respectively, both in the same severe category. An AQI between zero and 50 is considered ‘good’, 51 to 100 ‘satisfactory’, 101- 200 ‘moderate’, 201-300 ‘poor’, 301-400 ‘very poor’ and 401-500 ‘severe’.

Commenting on the deteriorating air quality of the capital, Dr. Harshal Salve, Additional Professor, Center for Community Medicine, Delhi AIIMS, said that prolonged exposure to such toxic air can lead to serious problems apart from respiratory problems. .

Dr. Salve said, “People suffering from COPD and other respiratory diseases should use N95 masks while going out.”

Emphasizing on an immediate ban on outdoor activities, he said everyone should avoid going out from 10 pm to 8 am, as the concentration levels of pollutants remain at their peak during this period.

“Even for those suffering from sensitivity issues, indoor activities should be kept to a low level,” Salve said.

Dr. Payal Chowdhary, Senior Consultant Obstetrician and Gynecologist at Madhukar Rainbow Children’s Hospital said that the last few days have seen a sharp deterioration in the air quality and the AQI is going down and reaching very poor and sometimes dangerous levels .

Dr. Payal Chowdhary said, “Exposure to environmental pollutants can have adverse pregnancy outcomes. It increases the risk of spontaneous abortion, preterm delivery and the risk of stillbirth if exposed in the third trimester. Exposure to PM 2.5 and exposure to PM 10 as well as carbon monoxide and cooking smoke air pollution are major risk factors for harm during pregnancy.”

Meanwhile, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights on Wednesday urged Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to close schools till the air quality improves.


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