The air pollution in Delhi has reached alarming proportions and every winter brings with it lung diseases, asthmatic attacks, coughing, teary eyes and long queues of the sick and elderly at hospitals complaining of chest congestion. Everything from vehicular exhaust, to bursting of crackers during Diwali, the burning of crop residue in nearby states of Punjab & Haryana, burning of leaves and waste and the ongoing construction work contributes to the air pollution in Delhi.
Temperature inversion during the winter months does not let these pollutants get dispersed easily and they linger on for longer periods in Delhi’s air. The trend is not new and a graded response by the Government to address Delhi’s air pollution problem also does not seem to be helping. Thus, it does not seem that the air pollution problem is going to go away any time soon.
The best solution therefore is to avoid being outside when the air is most polluted. For this, you need to be aware of the air quality index around you at all times. Here are six websites you can use to find out the air quality index (AQI) around you and take preventive steps to protect yourself.
1. DPCC Air Data: http://dpccairdata.com
dpccairdata.com is the official website of the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), Government of NCT of Delhi. The website provides you with Real Time Air Quality Data of over 20 stations across the various districts of Delhi. These include stations like the Delhi Airport, Nehru Stadium, Civil Lines, R.K. Puram etc. You can find out the concentration of pollutants such as Nitrogen Dioxide, Sulphur Dioxide, Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM), Respirable Suspended Particulate Matter (RSPM), etc. in the last few hours around you. The permissible values of these pollutants are also given so you can compare and find out how polluted is the air around you, above than the permissible value.
2. CPCB Air Data: http://184.108.40.206:9000
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) is the official pollution monitoring and management agency of the Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Government of India. It provides real time air quality data of all over India and also of Delhi. AQI of the last few hours is made available for some 17 stations around you. The interactive map can also be accessed at this link: http://www.cpcb.gov.in/CAAQM/mapPage/frmdelhi.aspx?stateID=6 for Delhi.
aqicn.org is a global database of air quality indices from around the world. In India, it uses Air Quality Data provided by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee and Central Pollution Control Board to generate a metadata and provide you with Real-time Air Quality Index (AQI) of Delhi at any given time. It has an interactive interface and it also provides widgets that you can install on your own website or blog.
4. SAFAR – India
SAFAR or the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research is supported by the Ministry of Earth Science, Govt. of India and is based at Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune. SAFAR provides real time air quality data at 10 locations in and around Delhi, both on its website and through display boards located at some strategic locations in Delhi.
The online portal of the Hindustan Times newspaper has also been running a page to crate awareness about the AQI of Delhi in the people. It provides an interactive interface to understand the overall air pollution situation of Delhi and also of the places located closest to you.
6. US Embassy’s NowCast Air Quality Data
The U.S. Embassy in Delhi measure airborne fine particulate matter (PM 2.5, because they are less than or equal to 2.5 microns in diameter) on the compounds of the Embassy and Consulates. The air quality data collected by the U.S. Mission in India is translated into actionable information by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) NowCast algorithm. This algorithm converts raw PM 2.5 readings into an air quality index (AQI) value that can help inform health-related decisions. The index is calculated based on data over a 3-12 hour period depending on the variability of particulate concentration. The data is made available for the five Indian cities, including Delhi, where it is monitored.