Delhi’s air quality improved marginally to ‘very poor’ category from ‘severe’ a day after Diwali due to favourable meteorological conditions even as tens of thousands of people defied the blanket ban on bursting of firecrackers.

The Air Quality Index stood at 300 in the ‘poor’ category on at 10.00 am due to an active western disturbance. High wind speed and light shower resulted in the dispersion of pollutants.

The city’s 24-hour average air quality index (AQI) improved to 221, which falls in the ‘poor’ category. It was 435 on Sunday and 414 on Saturday (Diwali).

The last time Delhi’s AQI was recorded in the ‘poor’ category was on November 2. The AQI reached the ‘moderate’ category by 6 pm.

The central government’s Air Quality Early Warning System for Delhi said AQI improved “significantly” after Diwali owing to rainfall and strong winds and is likely to remain in the ‘moderate’ category on Tuesday. The air quality is likely to deteriorate marginally and hit the ‘poor’ category on Wednesday.

In Delhi-NCR, the levels of PM 2.5 which is about three per cent the diameter of a human hair and can lead to premature deaths from heart and lung diseases were 88 microgram per cubic meter (g/m3) at 6 pm. The safe limit is 60 g/m3.

PM 10 level stood at 135 g/m3 at 6 pm. PM10levelsbelow 100 g/m3 is considered safe in India and 500 g/m3 is the emergency threshold. The last time Delhi recorded such low PM10 levels was on September 28. The neighbouring cities of Faridabad (186), Ghaziabad (207), Greater Noida (226), Gurgaon (246) and Noida (243) recorded their AQI in ‘poor’ and ‘moderate’ categories after braving ‘severe’ air quality on Saturday and Sunday.

However, the condition might worsen again in the coming days because of fall in temperatures and calm winds. Apart from meteorological conditions, local emissions can catalyse the deterioration of air quality making it worse.

“I feel better better this morning. The air feels better. Yesterday, after my two and a half hour cycling session I coughed my lungs out, it was that bad. However, it’s unfortunate that we need natural forces to bring down the pollution levels.” Ayush, a cyclist from Delhi said.

Kuldeep Srivastava, the head of the India Meteorological Department, said the wind speed was favourable for dispersion of pollutants on Monday as well. The Ministry of Earth Sciences’ air quality monitor, SAFAR, had also predicted that pollution levels may recede to the ‘poor’ category “in case of enough rains and washout”.

(With inputs from PTI)

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