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Delhi remains shrouded in toxic haze for 3rd consecutive day

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: October 31, 2019  | 22:21 IST

(Eds: Updates figures) New Delhi, Oct 31 (PTI) The number of masked faces in Delhi continued to grow as the city remained blanketed under the pungent haze for the third consecutive day on Thursday. The capital's overall air quality index (AQI) stood at 410 at 4 pm on Thursday, a tad better than 419 at the same time a day ago. Twenty-two of the 37 air quality monitoring stations across Delhi recorded AQI in the 'severe' category in the morning. Bawana was the most-polluted area with an AQI of 470, followed by Anand Vihar (469), Wazirpur (467), Vivek Vihar (458) and Ashok Vihar (448). The five are the 'critically-polluted' areas identified by the Delhi government after analysing post-Diwali pollution data. Neighbouring Ghaziabad was the most-polluted city in the country, with the levels of PM2.5 -- tiny particulate matter less than 2.5 microns that can enter deep into the lungs -- reaching as high as 484. 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'. Above 500 falls in the 'severe-plus emergency' category. According to the Ministry of Earth Sciences' air quality monitor, SAFAR, the share of stubble burning in Delhi's pollution stood at 27 per cent on Thursday, with farm fires continuing to rage in Haryana and Punjab. According to data from Punjab and the Central Pollution Control Board, the state has recorded a whopping increase of 7,842 fires -- from 12,027 on Sunday to 19,869 on Wednesday. Haryana has recorded an increase of 476 cases -- from 3,735 to 4,211 -- during the same period. Weather experts said increased wind speed due to a fresh western disturbance would help disperse pollutants faster from Saturday. In view of the hazardous pollution levels in Delhi, doctors advised people to take a lot of precautions, including wearing face masks and avoiding early morning and late evening walks as concentration of pollutants is at its peak during this period. Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia had on Wednesday said the decision to shut schools would be taken "when the need arises". In November 2017, the government had shut schools for a few days due to the deteriorating air quality. The government, meanwhile, will start distributing 50 lakh N95 masks, considered one of the good quality masks for tackling smog, among school students in Delhi from Friday. Meanwhile, the BCCI said it would carry on with the India-Bangladesh T20 clash at the Feroz Shah Kotla grounds on Sunday, disregarding concerns raised by environmentalists about the health of players and thousands of spectators. The AQI takes into account five chief pollutants -- particulate matter with a diameter less than 10 micrometres (PM10), PM2.5, ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and carbon monoxide (CO). The higher the AQI value, the greater the level of air pollution and health concerns. PTI GVS HMB

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