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Delhi's air turns toxic: Alarming increase in hospital cases

As a thick blanket of opalescent smog envelops the Capital, the Commission for Air Quality Management has ordered implementation of GRAP Stage 4 in Delhi-NCR but the Delhi Government is yet to decide on closing schools, closure of non-emergency commercial activities and plying of vehicles on an odd-even basis. Noida has closed all schools.

NEW DELHI, Nov 3: With the onset of winter, lack of air flow and smoke and fumes filling the atmosphere, the air quality has worsened in the Delhi National Capital Region. Smog fills the air making breathing difficult, leading to a rise in pulmonary diseases even among children. There is an alarming spike in hospital cases. The air quality index (AQI) is “severe" at 426.

The Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) has directed the authorities to implement Graded Response Action PLan (GRAP) Stage 4. It has directed to ban entry of trucks in Delhi. Only those carrying essential goods be allowed. CNG and electricity-run vehicles will also be allowed. Vehicles plying on diesel and those non-BS VI will not run. All construction works must be stopped in the NCR. The situation will be reviewed on the November 6.

The State Governments are considering emergency measures like the closure of schools and other educational institutions, closure of non-emergency commercial activities, work from home and plying of vehicles on an odd-even basis etc.

Even as the Government of Delhi has yet to take a decision of closure of schools as also the odd/even plan, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights chairperson Priyank Kanoongo has recommended that schools in the Capital be shut.

AQI is in severe/very poor range in all NCR towns of Noida, Grurgram, Ghaziabad and Faridabad.

Smog (coined from smoke and fog), a mixture of fog, traffic fumes, smoke from stubble burning and dust, is a major cause of air pollution in the Capital region now. The NCR is covered in a thick blanket of opalescent or brownish smog.

Diesel ban in Noida

Noida, a satellite town of the NCR , has prohibited the use of diesel engines and generators. Setting fire in the open and big tandoors in hotels are banned as also burning of garbage and dry leaves.

Construction sites will install anti-smog guns. There will be 90 sprinkler tankers and 40 anti-smog guns across Noida. No permission will be given for mining.

Classes 1 to 8 will be conducted online until November 8 and classes 9 to 12 and higher educational institutions have been asked to operate online, a notification by GautamBuddha Nagar DM Suhas Lalinakere Yathiraj said on Thursday.

Noida recorded an AQI of 388 and Gurgaon 391.

WHAT IS FOG: "Fog is when you can see less than 1,000 metres away, and if you can see farther than 1,000 metres, we call it mist," the British weather office explained.

Fog is essentially a cloud at ground level that causes a reduction in visibility to less than 1,000 metres. It is caused by a suspension of water droplets. Particles in the air allow water droplets to coalesce and grow to form fog. Fog is also formed when cold air condenses.

MIST: Like fog, mist is also the result of suspension of water droplets, but simply at a lower density. It quickly dissipates in slight winds. Here you can see your breath.

HAZE: Haze does not refer to water droplets, it is just suspension of extremely small, dry particles in the air, not water droplets. A haze hangs in the atmosphere in the mornings and evenings making visibility poor.

SMOG: Smog is polluted fog - thick, smelling, yellow or brown - while fog is clean white. Smog causes skin irritations, breathing problems and building corrosion. In London, because of a pollution legislation, there is no smog for the last over half a century.

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