If You Live in Delhi

Consumer Voice - - Feature -

Re­gard­less of how much time you spend out­doors or in­doors, ozone mol­e­cules and mi­cro­scopic bun­dles of ni­tro­gen ox­ides flow down your tra­chea and into your chest, where some be­come lodged. Some of these par­ti­cles can give you lung can­cer, while some may en­ter your blood­stream and in­flame the old in­juries – es­pe­cially on the joints. Breath­ing in Delhi means you are con­sis­tently ex­pos­ing your­self to air­borne de­tri­tus that puts you in dan­ger of con­tract­ing bron­chi­tis, asthma, lungs in­fec­tion and even hy­per­ten­sion and de­men­tia. The filth in the air is not al­ways vis­i­ble. How­ever, one small ride in an auto rick­shaw will have you ex­pe­ri­ence ve­hic­u­lar fumes wash­ing over your face and a dark layer that coats the in­side of your nose.

Ba­si­cally, with ev­ery breath you take in Delhi, re­gard­less of how mind­ful or obliv­i­ous you are of the poi­son that’s fill­ing your lungs, the risk of suf­fer­ing a stroke or a heart at­tack in­creases. In 2013, as per WHO, the In­dian cap­i­tal av­er­aged 153 mi­cro­grams per cu­bic me­tre of PM2.5 (tiny, toxic par­ti­cles that lead to res­pi­ra­tory dis­eases, lung can­cer and heart at­tacks), which is 15 times more than the av­er­age an­nual ex­po­sure rec­om­mended by the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Out­door air pol­lu­tion has be­come In­dia’s fifth high­est killer, trail­ing only be­hind to­bacco, high blood pres­sur­ere­lated dis­eases, and road ac­ci­dents. Sadly, the most vul­ner­a­ble are chil­dren who are born in the city and are ex­posed to its air ever since their birth, with half of their or­gans not even de­vel­oped fully. No study has been done yet to com­pare the phys­i­cal and men­tal strengths of chil­dren born and brought up in such pol­luted cities against those born in health­ier en­vi­ron­ments. How­ever, one can ar­rive

Prob­lem­atic Num­bers and Air Qual­ity In­dex

Let us ad­mit this. One of the rooted prob­lems in our coun­try is that we need doc­u­mented proof of the prob­lem even if we can see and feel it. Al­right, the prob­lem needs to be mea­sured, but mere mea­sur­ing will not help if the prob­lem is so mam­moth that it is only in­creas­ing with each pass­ing day.

is a ‘ mea­sur­ing’ ini­tia­tive of the en­vi­ron­ment min­istry to record lev­els of air pol­lu­tion from 37 lo­ca­tions across Delhi. The process started a few months ago and sev­eral crores of ru­pees of public money have been spent. The gov­ern­ment now has doc­u­mented proof (any­body can see the qual­ity of air of each lo­ca­tion at http://aqi. iitk.ac.in:9000/). As you will note, there’s hardly a lo­ca­tion that shows ‘sat­is­fac­tory’ lev­els of air pol­lu­tion. the pol­lu­tion level; it only tells you how bad or worse it is.

The var­ied lev­els mea­sured on hourly ba­sis from var­ied lo­ca­tions are sum­ma­rized into a sin­gle num­ber that de­ter­mines the rat­ing of the air qual­ity for that par­tic­u­lar lo­ca­tion – along the range of ‘ healthy’ to ‘haz­ardous’. When Team Con­sumer Voice ran­domly checked the lev­els of each lo­ca­tion, it emerged that

Ap­par­ently, data from some lo­ca­tions was not be­ing cal­cu­lated, with

the re­spec­tive Web page show­ing an er­ror mes­sage: ‘In­suf­fi­cient data for com­put­ing AQI’.

On the other hand, the level of pol­lu­tion at the lo­ca­tions pro­duc­ing ad­e­quate data was mostly above ac­cept­able lim­its, with some lo­ca­tions even touch­ing the ‘poor’ mark at

sev­eral in­ter­vals.

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