The country woke up to a cloud of smog the day after Diwali celebrations, with air pollution reaching alarming levels in a number of cities. Concentrations of PM 2.5 and PM 10 (particulate matters that are 10 or less than 10, and 2.5 or less than 2.5 micrometres in diametre) rose to extremely unhealthy levels in Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Lucknow, Kolkata and a number of other cities across the country, according to The Indian Express.

In Delhi, low temperatures and the lack of winds caused a harmful mix of respirable pollutants and toxic gases to remain close to the surface, thus worsening the air quality. PM 2.5 rose to "hazardous" levels – from 643 to 999 micrograms in various areas, which is several times higher than the safe limit of 60 micrograms per cubic metres, according to the Central Pollution Control Board. PM 10 was 999 micrograms per cubic metres, also much higher than the safe limit of 100 micrograms.

Smog-induced low visibility also caused five vehicles to collide on the Delhi-Noida Direct flyway on Monday morning. No injuries were reported in the accident, ANI reported.

Credit: Air Qualilty Index
Credit: Air Qualilty Index

The air quality in Mumbai, however, fared better than in Delhi, even though PM 2.5 stood at a "hazardous" level of 494. Earlier, the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research had warned that air quality levels would be worse post Diwali this year than that the past two years.

Credit: Air Qualilty Index
Credit: Air Qualilty Index


In Pune, PM 2.5 was found to be 400 and PM 10, 268. In Kolkata, PM 2.5 – also called fine particles – rose to an "unhealthy" level of 378, while it shot up to three times higher than the safe limit in Bengaluru. In Lucknow, PM 2.5 spiked to 834, while Ahmedabad fared far worse with PM 2.5 at 999.

Credit: Air Qualilty Index
Credit: Air Qualilty Index
Credit: Air Qualilty Index
Credit: Air Qualilty Index
Credit: Air Qualilty Index
Credit: Air Qualilty Index

Pollution across the world

Unicef has released the findings of a new study that show more than 300 million children across the globe live in areas having very poor air quality. Of these children, 220 million live in south Asia and India accounts for a major share of it.

In such regions, toxic fumes in the air are six times higher than what is prescribed by the World Health Organisation. The study said that global air pollution is a bigger threat than malaria or HIV/Aids. Air pollution has caused the death of 6,00,000 children every year, according to the report. Unicef’s Executive Director Anthony Lake said, “The magnitude of the danger air pollution poses is enormous. No society can afford to ignore air pollution.”