A thick haze caused by plumes of toxic smoke enveloped Delhi and its surrounding areas on Sunday. According to government-run monitoring agency System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research, or SAFAR, the air quality index in the national Capital was 625 and in the “severe” category at 12 pm.
SAFAR measures Delhi’s air quality based on index values recorded at up to nine stations spread across the city and one each in Noida and Gurugram. Ten of these stations recorded air quality in the “severe plus emergency” category on Sunday. Gurugram was the most polluted with an AQI of 737.
An AQI between 0-50 is considered “good”, 51-100 “satisfactory”, 101-200 “moderate”, 201-300 “poor”, 301-400 “very poor” and 401-500 “severe”. An index above 500 falls in the “severe-plus emergency” category. Anything above 400 poses a risk for people with respiratory illnesses and can also affect even those with healthy lungs.
Authorities on Friday had declared a public health emergency and closed schools and all construction activity until next week as pollution in the city hit its worst level this year.