The Hudhud cyclone that’s likely to hit the Coromandel coast on Sunday will have a serious effect on Delhi’s air quality. The models prepared by System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) at Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology show levels of carbon monoxide, ozone and particulate matter rising steeply Friday evening onwards. Meteorologists at SAFAR say Delhites should brace up for very poor air quality, especially if there is no rainfall in Delhi.
Scientists at Delhi Pollution Control Committee air quality lab also confirmed that levels of certain pollutants are set to rise. According to SAFAR’s model, CO levels will rise from the current 1.2 parts per million to about 3 PPM over the weekend. The threshold for CO is 1.7 PPM, according to SAFAR. Ground level ozone is associated with serious health problems such as breathing difficulty and reduced lung function. Ozone levels are likely to increase from the present level of 40 parts per billion (PPB) to 63 PPB. The threshold for ground-level ozone is 50 PPB.
The particulate matter (PM 2.5 and PM 10) concentration is likely to increase by 60% to 70%. PM2.5 (fine respirable particles) levels may reach about 180-200 micrograms per cubic metre when the standard is only 60 micrograms per cubic metre. PM10 (coarse particles) levels are likely to be about 260 to 270 micrograms per cubic metre.
“The air from the coastal region will sweep out the air rich in pollutants and dump it on the Indo-Gangetic plains which will affect Delhi, too. The effect from this will also dissipate quickly. But for two days air quality will be very poor. If it rains then PM levels may get better but CO and ozone levels will be high,” said Gufran Beig, chief project scientist, SAFAR. The Indian Meteorological Department forecasts a clear sky on Saturday but for Sunday there are chances of thunderstorm and gusty winds.
The worst air quality is likely to be faced by other parts of Indo-Gangetic plains like Uttar Pradesh and Punjab. DPCC is also gearing up for an awareness drive up to keep air pollution in check during Diwali.