Delhi's air quality was 'moderate' Thursday morning as research suggested that long-term exposure to ambient air pollution may heighten the risk of Covid-19 infection.
The city’s Air Quality Index (AQI) was 142 at 8 am, according to the Ministry of Earth Sciences' air quality forecast agency SAFAR. Readings below 50 are considered safe, 51 and 100 is 'satisfactory' and anything above 300 is considered hazardous or 'severe'.
Air quality slipped to 'moderate' on Wednesday after being 'satisfactory' for a couple of days after heavy rains lashed the capital over the weekend.
A study, published online in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, showed that both particulate matter (PM) 2.5 and 10 were significantly associated with an increased Covid-19 infection rate. The government prescribes a "safe" PM2.5 reading at 60 micrograms per cubic meter of air over a period of 24 hours. PM2.5 is small enough to travel deep into the lungs, enter the bloodstream and can cause severe respiratory diseases, including lung cancer.
Delhi was this morning the world's fourth most polluted city in the world with an AQI of 197, according to IQAir.
Preliminary data from a month-long experiment has shown that indoor air pollution levels were nearly half of the outdoor levels in Delhi-NCR during November-December so far.
India is failing in efforts to improve its toxic air quality, with the number of smog-plagued cities increasing since the launch of a national program to tackle the issue, Bloomberg reported Tuesday.
A total of 132 cities now have pollution levels deemed below national standards, from 102 cities when the National Clean Air Programme began in 2019, according to a report by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air.