Air quality in Indian capital ‘very poor’: expert PM 2.5 reaches 250 micrograms per cubic meter

NEW DELHI, Feb 1, (AP): An Indian government scientist said Friday that air quality in New Delhi has worsened this week and is now “very poor,” although it should not be compared to China’s capital which has been reeling recently under massive pollution.

Gurfan Baig of the state-run Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology said that levels of tiny particulate known as PM 2.5, which can penetrate deep into the lungs, had reached 250 micrograms per cubic meter in various neighborhoods in and around the Indian capital.

The amount is more than 10 times higher than World Health Organization safety levels over a 24-hour period. Although the level is threatening to the health, it is still much better than Beijing recently, where levels of PM 2.5 have been hovering around 500.

Fine particles come from combustion made by motor vehicles, power plants, wood fires and some industrial processes.

“The air quality in the Indian capital is fluctuating between poor and very poor, and in the Chinese capital between very poor and critical,” Baig told The Associated Press.

D.S. Saha, a senior official at the government-run Central Pollution control Board, said Beijing with a lot of industries and many large factories should not be compared with a city such as New Delhi which has gardens and few major factories.

However, he expressed serious concern at the recent increase in the number of cars and use of cheap diesel by vehicles.

That concern is increasingly being shared by the Indian public.

“People also face health problems ... stress and strain,” said Prem Shankar Pandey, an insurance agent.

 “They should use their vehicles only when absolutely necessary. Using a two wheeler vehicle or the metro is a better option.”


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