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With Delhi’s Diwali lights, pollution ignites

3rd November 2016.George Kottakal.0 Likes.0 Comments

If you live in Delhi, there was a good chance that you got to see smog envelope the city after Diwali. The pollution level in Delhi got so bad that many people even started signing a petition to ban firecrackers in Delhi during Diwali. In hindsight, the government’s decision to ban Chinese fireworks may have done more than just increase nationalism!

A study conducted shows that a person from Delhi inhales enough PM 2.5 that is equivalent to 25 cigarettes a day (Muller and Muller). Obviously a little concerned, I did a quick check on the National Air Quality Index site (developed by IIT Kanpur) and made a horrifying discovery.

Pollution in Dwarka, New Delhi

Pollution in Dwarka, New Delhi

What is PM 2.5?

PM 2.5 is an abbreviation for Particulate Matter with 2.5 denoting the size of particles in the air that are 2.5 microns or less. Due to their small size, they can easily be inhaled and cause short-term health problems such as throat and lung irritation. However, long-term exposure can increase lung cancer and heart disease.

How did things get so bad?

A majority of people have blamed Diwali for a sudden increase in pollution. However, there are other factors that should also be taken into account.

  1. Farmers in the neighboring states of Punjab and Haryana have been setting fire to their paddy stubble after cultivation. This normally happens during the end of October.
  2. Reduced winds and increased humidity keeps the pollutants close to the ground, affecting visibility.

Preventive measures for pollution:

  1. Celebrate Diwali without fireworks. Even China, which uses massive amounts of pyrotechnics during Chinese festivals has banned fireworks (Wenting,2016 15 February). A ban on fireworks has the advantage of letting the dogs and other pets have a good night’s rest.   
  2. The National Green Tribunal had instructed the government to stop farmers from burning the crops. No such measure was taken.Thus, is a failure at the implementation level.
  3. Buy air filters if possible. An N95 mask which can filter 95% of the smaller particles is now available on Amazon for less than a thousand Rupees. (Not product placement)

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