Gurgaon: PM 2.5 seven times higher than safe standard
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Gurgaon: PM 2.5 seven times higher than safe standard

As the weather refuses to stabilise even four days after Diwali, a few schools suspend classes and offices allow employees to work from home.

Gurgaon: PM 2.5 seven times higher than safe standard

Despite several Green Diwali campaigns by environmentalists, air-pollution levels have risen alarmingly in Gurgaon and its nearby areas.

As Gurgaon continues to struggle with smog on the fourth consecutive day, several schools, including Shiv Nadar School, Heritage School, DPS in Sector 45 and Shri Ram School, suspended classes today.

Several companies, too, allowed their employees, especially foreigners, to work from home, keeping in view deteriorating weather conditions.

Officials of the Indian Meteorological Department said that apart from firecrackers, burning of crop residue and low wind velocity in past few days have added to the smog across the state.

The average 24-hour level of PM 2.5 (measured from 4 pm on November 2 till 4 pm the next day) was 421.62 micrograms per cubic metre (g/m³) — seven times higher than the safe standard of 60 g/m³.

According to Met department officials, the situation is going to get worse in the coming days, as there is no prediction of rain or speedy winds to cut across the smog.

According to the data released by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), concentration of PM 2.5 has steadily increased since Diwali (October 31). While the 24-hour average concentration of PM 2.5 was 212.96 g/m³ on October 30 (from 2 pm on October 29 to 2 pm the next day), it increased to 217.45 g/m³ on Diwali. It further increased to 328.15 g/m³ on November 1 and reached 381.50 g/m³ the next day.

According to the World Health Organization, PM 2.5 concentration shouldn’t be more than 60 g/m³.

However, other air pollutants such as carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen and ozone remained below the permissible limit.

Neurologist Sumit Singh from Artemis Hospital said a sudden dip in temperature, combined with Diwali-induced pollution and stubble-burning (setting fire to the straw stubble that remains after wheat and other grains have been harvested), led to a spurt in asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory disorders.

Many residents reportedly complained of a burning sensation in their eyes and throats due to the smog that engulfed their homes after Diwali.

"Pollution levels have risen alarmingly, so I have decided to not send my kid to school for now," said Lata Agrawal, a resident of Model Town. Her son, Prakhar, a student of Class VII in KR Mangalam School, now wears a mask to be able to go out and play with his friends. 

Shailesh Sharma, RWA president of Apna Enclave, near Gurgaon railway station, said children and the elderly are the worst affected. "We have requested residents in our society to avoid going out, and urged them to not send their children to school or outside to play till the weather stablises," he said.