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Gone are the days when Delhi winters were something to look forward to. Now, all it means is gloomy, cold and smoggy months that you spend pent-up inside your homes. But did you ever wonder why only Delhi and its neighboring cities suffer from smog? While there are many other cities with similar sources of pollution and population level, the overall effect it imparts to the atmosphere and as a result to us is considerably less. When we talk about the most industrialized states in India or the ones with the highest number of factories, we generally imagine a smoky, hazy and suffocating place with a grim factory setup and a high chimney spewing black, sooty smoke. According to a report, Tamil Nadu is the state with the highest number of factories followed by Maharashtra, Gujarat, UP,and Andhra Pradesh. So by our logic, these must also be the ones with bad AQI. But then why is Delhi, the one city which doesn’t feature in this list is the most polluted? The answer to this is the unfortunate combination of geographic topology, wind pattern, factory positioning, meteorological patterns combined with anthropogenic sources that our capital has to bear the brunt of. Let us tell you how. Wind Pattern: This is one of the most crucial factors impacting our air quality. The speed and direction of the wind in a region determine its air quality. If it directs away from the city, it would act as an automatic reset button and flush out the pollution buildup. On the other hand, if the wind direction is towards the city blowing from the neighboring cities or states, it is bound to cause further deterioration in air quality. This is exactly why many cities in the northern part of India have a higher level of pollution during winters when the average wind speed goes down by 1/3rd of its average speed in summer. So if there are many factories upwind of the city, it would obviously transport SO2 gas emitted from them into Delhi city thereby affecting the air quality. Geography: Imagine a bowl placed right next to a pile of soot and a huge fan blowing on the opposite side of the bowl. This is the topography of the Northern part of India. Delhi lies North-east to the Thar Desert, South-West of the Himalayas and North-West of the Central Plains. Also, India is a country that is surrounded by a huge transcontinental arc with high levels of pollutants. So whenever winds blow from the coastal region, it picks up all the particulate matter along the way and drops it in this bowl right before the Himalayas. The air pressure doesn’t help either and leads to entrapment of all the pollutants that start building up over the Northern Plains. To add to this condition is the stubble burning situation in Punjab and Haryana (North-West of India) that produces a particulate cloud in New Delhi and the dust storms from Rajasthan that gets trapped in the NCR region. This pushes the particulate matter levels to the severe range throughout the year. Sometimes, the particulate matter sourced to Delhi is not even domestic! The smog activities are sometimes triggered by particulate matter that has traveled thousands of kilometers to India (Middle East region). There is no overnight fix for bad air quality,and it would take years, even decades for policymakers to bring about a change, especially in Delhi. Meanwhile, it makes a lot of sense to know the air you breathe and monitor the changes to enable a better understanding of the existing condition. Investing in an API-based air quality monitor can help not only us but also those policymakers and research institutions that are striving hard to bring about a change in this air quality situation. Together we change, together, we make a better tomorrow. Know the air you breathe. Invest in our air quality monitor now and keep yourself and your loved ones safe. Now air quality monitor is Also available on
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