Among all the urban islands of pollution, Delhi remains the most adversely affected because of its history of dangerous PM levels, high per capita income and supply of a huge cracker market.
Post these festivals, Delhi is experiencing a case where it is engulfed and surrounded by a thick layer of smog which is difficult to dissipate easily. Quantifying the observation, Air Quality Index recorded by Delhi Pollution Control Committee at 6 places in Delhi at least 5 of them experienced PM10 levels that had levels at 12 times the WHO standards, and PM2.5 levels at over 5 times the prescribed standards. Moreover, certain pollution islands such as Anand Vihar and Punjabi Bagh experienced spikes in level of this suspended particulate matter at over 42 times the prescribed WHO limits. Moreover, the recent incidence of winter and westerlies makes the situation more worse where such harmful pollutants reside down at ground level thereby increasing its concentration in the air we breathe. This situation has led the capital city turning into a Nazi-era famed gas chambers.
Such adverse situation creates ripples in general human health cycle by causing irritation on human skin, adversely affect lung conditions for people especially infants, increases risks of cardiovascular disorders, can cause lung cancers, makes case for shortness of breath and also causes long term diseases and aberrations in human body. It calls for an affirmative positive action both from the civil society and the Government.
An individual can download Air quality real-time monitoring applications on their phones to plan accordingly to reduce exposure to spiked level places. Prefer Air conditioners with clean filters can reduce the incidence of such polluted air. Using air purifiers and air-filters preferably with HEPA filters can make a positive change in the air we breathe. Using air masks preferably N95 or N99 can reduce the exposure to lungs. Avoid heavy exertion activities and prefer indoor gymnasium over outdoor activities such as cycling and jogging. Walking in high rise sunshine is safer than gloomy cold evening. Avoiding auto rickshaws and roads with long traffic lights can reduce the incidence. Drinking plenty of water with additive of Vitamin C tablets can increase immunity of the body. And more importantly, make a positive change by car-pooling and avoiding burning trash. There are a lot more things a Govt. can do to ensure clean atmosphere in and around the capital city.
A new legislation to curb the ambient air pollution by stricter standards and careful monitoring is the way forward. Making chimney emissions clean by pulse jet cleaning system technology and cyclone precipitators can cause positive affect to the environment. Reducing and curbing dust pollution by using sprinkler systems and vacuum cleaning of roadside and construction areas can reduce the added effect of dust and reduce PM in the ambient air of Delhi. Making and regulating school, factory and labour working time to the most appropriate levels when ambient air quality index is comparatively less at that time of the day can reduce average exposure unit of pollution. Banning certain type of vehicles in certain high polluted areas and high pollution days can support the collective effort at most critical places. Selling and purchase of fire crackers can also be considered from next year onwards. Finally revising and revisiting car-pooling methods and schemes like odd-even can create a constructive psyche and social change necessary for creating a positive and irreversible long-term change to prevent gas chambering of Delhi during such festivities so that individuals can celebrate such jovial festivals without caring much about the negative externalities involved.