In 2020, Delhi enjoyed the most ‘good air’ days of the last three years mainly due to the nationwide lockdown imposed in the first half of the year to help curb spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
The national capital witnessed 192 days in the year when the PM2.5 level was below the National Ambient Air Quality Standard of 60 micrograms per cubic metre, The Times of India reported citing data from System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR). SAFAR is the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences’ forecasting agency. In both 2018 and 2019, there were just 120 ‘good air’ days.
PM2.5 is the mixture of solid particulate matter and liquid droplets found in the air. Breathing such air can affect the heart and cause chronic cardiovascular problems.
The news report cites experts as saying that while there was less pollution in 2020 as compared to the previous two years mainly because of the lockdown. The long-term trend also shows an improvement in air quality year after year.
It is to be noted that the days with better air quality may have increased, the overall Air Quality Index for the region remains ‘hazardous’, especially during the winter. Medical experts had warned that air pollution can aggravate the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
On December 31, Delhi's AQI stood at 347 with PM2.5 at 193. AQI between 0 and 50 is considered "good", 51–100 is "satisfactory", 101–200 is "moderately polluted", 201–300 is "poor", 301–400 is "very poor" and 401–500 is considered "severe". The categorisation may vary depending on the monitoring agency.India Pollution Tracker: Check AQI today in Delhi, Mumbai and other major cities