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No winter cheer in Delhi as city suffers worst air quality at night, early morning

Delhiites experienced cold winds and a cloudy Saturday with the minimum temperature settling at 10.4 degrees Celsius, two notches above the season’s average. The weather department has forecast a cloudy Sunday too with rain in many parts of the city.

According to an official of the India Meteorological Department (IMD), there will be further dip in temperature after December 15.

But what is more alarming is the fact that Delhiites may be exposed to the worst air pollution at night and early morning. This has been highlighted in a study by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) that chose eight persons and monitored their exposure to pollution for 24 hours using a portable device. It also found that situation in the Lutyens’ zone, where the rich and the powerful reside, is no better despite the greenery and sparse traffic.

The study found PM 2.5 (fine, respirable particulate) levels to be the highest at night and during hours when these people go for morning walk. In some cases, even indoor air quality was extremely poor.

The study involved monitoring the personal exposure of Bhure Lal, chairperson, Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA), a resident of Lodhi Estate, Harish Salve, senior Supreme Court advocate who lives in Vasant Vihar, Ashok B Lall, architect and resident of Civil Lines, Randeep Guleria, head of pulmonary medicine department at AIIMS, William Bissel, head of Fabindia and resident of Hauz Khas enclave.

The group also had people who suffer from asthma—Bharati Chaturvedi who lives in Ravindra Nagar in central Delhi, head of Chintan, Kaushik Das Gupta, a journalist and Avikal Somvanshi, a research professional and cyclist.



The 24-hour average exposure of each individual was compared with the readings of the nearest monitoring station of the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) which revealed that the real exposure levels were much higher than the official figures. Lal who lives in Lodhi Estate was monitored on November 12 to 13. The hourly average PM 2.5 level was the highest between 5.50am and 6.50am — at 1195.83 microgram per cubic metre. It was the time when he had gone for a walk in Lodhi Garden. To be doubly sure about pollution levels in Lodhi Garden, the CSE team monitored him again on December 8-9 when levels were found to be 672 microgram per cubic metre, still alarmingly high.
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