Delhi Smog Index: What is Smog, Delhi Smog Level Today, and More

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Delhi Smog Index: What is Smog, Delhi Smog Level Today, and More
Highlights

Delhi smog has hit a twenty-year high

Schools have shut down, matches have been cancelled due to smog

You can use air masks, air purifiers to avoid ill effects of Delhi smog

With Delhi smog continuing for the seventh day, the citizens of the national capital are reeling from pollutants in the air that are making breathing in a lungful of clean air a distant dream. The cover of smog on the city has made headlines not only in the country but also worldwide, and cemented its position in one of the most polluted cities across the globe. People have taken to Twitter to air their frustrations and fears with Delhi smog, some even threatening to leave the country. Still not aware of what smog is, what it does to your health, and how to reduce its effects on yourself? Then we have the right answers for you.

What is smog?
Smog is a term used to describe the haze of smoke-laden fog that is caused by atmospheric pollution being trapped close to the ground. Vehicular exhausts, burning of agricultural crops, coal emissions, and even reactions between sunlight, nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds are common causes of smog in major cities like Delhi, Beijing, Los Angeles, Tehran, etc.  This type of air pollution is toxic to human beings and can lead to shortened lifespan and other illnesses.

What is the reason for Delhi smog nowadays?
With the Delhi smog at the worst level in two decades, the air quality of Delhi is rated at 'Severe'. The burning of crackers before, on and after Diwali has contributed to heavy Delhi smog, but there are other factors at play here too. Vehicular pollution and cigarette smoke are obvious culprits, but there has no major increase reported in their levels.

Instead, NASA images suggest that the burning of crops over the last month led to an increase of particulate matter in Delhi air. However, there is no conclusive evidence to say that crop burning is the big reason for the pall of smoke on Delhi. The Delhi government says crop burning in neighbouring states is the biggest reason for heavy smog in the state. But others say that it is responsible for only 20 percent of the air pollution and 80 percent of the sources of pollutants in the lower atmosphere of the state are originate from within.

What is Delhi smog level today?
The PM2.5 levels, a measure of the fine particulate matter that remains airborne because of its small size, in Delhi has an average score of 439.8 out of a maximum of 500 at 10am on November 08, 2016, leading to the 'Severe' rating by the National Air Quality Index. A score between 0 and 50 is considered good and between 201 and 300 is poor.

(Also see: Do Air Masks Help With Pollution? Which Ones Actually Matter?)

What are the effects of Delhi smog?
Smog can affect not only the lungs but also the heart. Common ill effects of smog on health are shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, and discomfort while breathing. These lead to reduced lung capacity and can cut down life expectancy of people breathing in the Delhi smog. Particulate matter can cause plaque in the arteries, which causes them to harden and eventually lead to a heart attack.
With the dangers of Delhi smog, the state government has ordered schools to be shut down for three days. Citizens have been warned to stay at home and two Ranji Trophy matches have been cancelled over the smog, which the Delhi environment minister called an emergency situation.

What can I do to protect myself from Delhi smog at home?
Air pollution and smog at your home can be controlled to an extent, though eliminating it completely is a tall order. You can use gadgets such as air purifiers, ionisers, and humidifiers, or low-tech solutions such as air purifying plants, vacuuming the furniture regularly, etc.

(Also see: From Air Purifiers to Ionisers, 5 Ways Technology Can Help You Cope With Delhi Air Pollution)

How do I protect myself from Delhi smog outdoors?
Using air masks is the best way to protect yourself from Delhi smog, since they can filter particulate matter and other major pollutants. Look for air masks with at least N95 rating, since it can remove 95 percent of the harmful particulate matter from the air you inhale; N99, N100 and P95 air masks are better at eliminating airborne pollutants, but cost a little more.

(Also see: The Best Air Pollution Masks You Can Buy Right Now in India)

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