New Delhi: Hazardous AQI levels, heavy atmosphere and smog — Delhi residents are all too familiar with the toxic air at the onset of winter.
A survey by community platform LocalCircles has shown how this pollution has affected families — out of 34,000 families surveyed in Delhi-NCR, 80 per cent say they have at least one member suffering from pollution-related ailments, while 48 per cent report a member suffering from breathing difficulties due to pollution.
On Monday, four days after Diwali, the AQI in Delhi was 294, in the ‘severe’ category.
Pollution levels skyrocket at the onset of winter, when falling temperatures and changing wind directions coincide with stubble burning in India’s countryside, to which smoke from firecrackers on Diwali gets added. This mix makes Delhi’s air poisonous; visibility also comes down as a thick sheet of smog envelopes the city.
Delhi babies have smaller lungs than US kids due to pollution
Twenty-two per cent respondents also said one or more of their family members have already visited a doctor or a hospital for pollution-related ailments. The PM 2.5 level in the city Monday was 250, which can even enter a person’s bloodstream and cause cardiovascular diseases. Doctors have previously reported a spike in younger people seeking treatment for respiratory illnesses.
Some doctors have called air pollution a bigger threat than Covid-19. In fact, Delhi’s babies now have smaller lungs than children in the United States, thanks to air pollution. Smaller lungs also make a person more vulnerable to developing respiratory disorders.
Ninety-one per cent of Delhi-NCR residents interviewed for the survey said they think authorities failed to regularise the sale, distribution and transportation of crackers. According to reports, the Delhi Police received over 1,100 complaints against firecrackers in the capital.
Delhi residents said they’re willing to change their lifestyles as a result — 61 per cent plan to “use anti-pollution mask” to cope with polluted air, 33 per cent may “increase consumption of immunity boosting foods”, and 28 per cent plan to “use air purifiers at home”.
However, 28 per cent families surveyed said they take no extra precaution against pollution. Eleven per cent use air purifiers, while 22 per cent rely on air pollution masks.
(Edited by Paramita Ghosh)