New Delhi, Dec 23 (IANS) The pollution levels in the national capital shot up on Wednesday and mounted to severe category, prompting the Ministry of Earth Sciences to advise people to avoid outdoor physical activities and wear N-95 or P-100 respirators.
Delhi's air quality index stood at 436 micrograms per cubic meter in severe category at noon. According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), 29 out of 36 pollution monitoring stations in Delhi showed severe air quality index reading.
Jahangirpuri, Patparganj and Anand Vihar areas of the national capital have the most noxious air, inching towards emergency levels.
The System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), which comes under the aegis of Ministry of Earth Sciences issued a stringent warning, asking everyone to avoid physical activity outdoors and consult doctor if they experience unusual coughing, chest discomfort, wheezing, breathing difficulty, or fatigue.
"If the room has windows, close them. If the air conditioner provides a fresh air intake option, close it. Avoid burning anything, such as wood, candles or even incense. Do not vacuum. Do wet mopping frequently. Masks known as N-95 or P-100 respirators may only help if you go out. Do not rely on dust masks for protection," the ministry further advised.
The air quality index is forecasted to remain in severe category by December 24 and "marginally improve to the higher end of very poor on December 25" due to slightly better ventilation conditions.
According to the weather forecasting agency, high humidity, colder temperature and calm surface-level winds will continue to put a break to the dispersion of accumulated pollutants till then.
Meanwhile, Delhi's neighbouring regions –- Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Noida and Greater Noida also recorded 'severe' quality of air, leaving aside Gurugram which had slightly better AQI at 333 micrograms per cubic meter. Ghaziabad and Greater Noida have the most polluted amongst all at 482 micrograms per cubic meter.
Nationwide, as many as 11 cities have very poor quality of air. Uttar Pradesh's Greater Noida and Ghaziabad top the charts, followed by Noida and Bulandshahr. Aizawl city of Mizoram recorded the cleanest air in the country at 19 micrograms per cubic meter.