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Tue Jan 15, 2013, 09:19 AM

The Race Heats Up! Delhi Air Quality PM 2.5 Level Hits 565, Closing Fast On Beijing's Record 755!

NEW DELHI: Beijing's air pollution made international news over the weekend when fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in the city air rose to an 'out-of-index' level of 755 mg/cu m. Pictures showed Beijing residents wearing masks amid advisories that they should stay indoors. Meanwhile, it was business as usual in Delhi on Monday when despite a clear windy day, the PM2.5 levels ranged from 130 to 565 mg/cu m.

According to World Health Organization, the safe level of PM2.5 is 20 mg/cu m. The Indian standard for this pollutant that can cause respiratory illnesses and worsen heart ailments is 60 mg/cu m. On Monday, the highest value of 565 mg/cu m considered very hazardous was recorded at R K Puram for about two hours. But even the lowest reading at this site was 191 mg/cu m, more than three times the Indian standard.

In November 2012, when the city was in the throes of its worst smog spell in recent years, PM2.5 levels were consistently over 500 mg/cu m over several places. "Beijing undertook several measures to control its air pollution levels during the Beijing Olympics in 2008 but the city is still prone to smog. More recently, it has decided to implement a lottery system for private cars which it hopes will keep a check on the rising number of vehicles. Despite all this, the city continues to battle worsening air quality," said Anumita Roychowdhury, associate director at the Centre for Science and Environment.

"Delhi, which is confronted with the same issues, is hardly doing anything to control air pollution. It would come as no surprise if we surpass Beijing's record in the next couple of years," Roychowdhury added.



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