New Delhi : The new year is likely to be greeted by ‘very poor’ quality air in the national capital with relatively windy conditions poised to prevent any major build up of suspended particulates, SAFAR today forecast.

The agency of the Ministry of Earth Sciences said while current pollution level is also in the very poor category, the situation will see a marginal deterioration from tomorrow before improving from January 2.

“The pollution level at present is in very poor category. It is likely to remain in very poor category until new year. However, a marginal increase in the level of PM 2.5 is predicted from 164 micrograms per cubic metre on Dec 30 to 192 on January 1. Thereafter, a significant drop to 159 on January 2 is expected,” the forecast said.

Although, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) pitched for early implementation of the CPCB-mandated and SC approved graded response system saying pollution was once again hitting the “emergency level”.

“If the notification of graded action plan, as directed by the Supreme Court is delayed, it can worsen the health emergency. The Ministry of Environment must notify it under section 3 of the Environment Protection Act immediately,” the green NGO said.

The National Air Quality Index (NAQI) of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) had a reading of 345 (running average) based on the data of seven monitoring stations across the city, as against yesterday’s 402.

SAFAR said the drop in temperature, which will bring down the inversion level which contributes towards accumulation of pollutants, will be offset by moderate wind speed at around 6-8 km per hour.

“If wind becomes calm (unlikely) then air quality may deteriorate but probability of calm wind situation is less than 20 per cent,” it said.

SAFAR recorded today’s average levels of PM 2.5 and PM 10 (24 hour, rolling) at 164 and 262 micrograms per cubic metre respectively as against the prescribed standards of 60 and 100.

A person may develop respiratory illness on prolonged exposure to ‘very poor’ quality air while ‘severe’ may affect healthy people and seriously impact those with existing respiratory diseases, CPCB guidelines say.           —PTI

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