Delhi-NCR woke up to a smo- filled morning for the fifth consecutive day after this year’s Diwali festivities. Air pollution levels were found to have hit a record high on November 4, 2016. The levels of particulate matter (PM) 10 and 2.5 (the two deadliest components of air pollution) were recorded as almost 10 times above the safe limit, by the Union government’s System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), a day after Diwali.
So, it’s official! The air Delhiites are breathing is lethal. Breathing is harmful for health now. People with already existing respiratory conditions face an even larger health risk. The fine particulate matter can settle deep in the lungs and get into the bloodstream, leading to respiratory problems, cardiovascular diseases and even lung cancer.
As a precautionary measure, many schools have been temporarily shut and a number of people have been donning air pollution masks. The poor visibility on roads has led to many accidents. Miffed citizens are describing the situation as ‘airpocalypse’. Other countries usually declare a ‘red alert’ in this kind of situation.
Is there anything we can do now? Precious little but we have to nonetheless, for our own sake. These conditions do not deserve a knee-jerk reaction, but a sustained effort and a foolproof mechanism in place to check such occurrences in the future. The city of about 20 million, which claims to be global and futuristic, also happens to rank among the world’s top cities with foul air, according to World Health Organisation (WHO).
Policies and initiatives have to be taken by the government and citizens to ensure that everyone does their bit to avert this environmental emergency. Unsustainable agricultural practices, urban lifestyles and irresponsible use of polluting resources must be denounced at the earliest. It’s never too late to wake up and take action provided the action is sustained and in the right direction.
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