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Air quality this October less hazardous for Delhi than last year

After breathing the cleanest air in four years in September, Delhi’s air quality is back to square one – polluted. According to the Air Quality Index (AQI) bulletin released by the Central Pollution Control Board, Thursday was the most polluted day in October this year for Delhi-NCR.

The 24 hours average of the AQI of the capital region touched 427 on Thursday. This makes Delhi’s air quality ‘severe’ consecutively for three days. An AQI above 400, according to the CPCB, ‘can affect healthy people and seriously impact those with existing diseases’.

The India Today Data Intelligence Unit (DIU) analysed the Air quality data for the month of October and compared it with the AQI statistics of October 2018. Our analysis showed that though the situation is critical in the capital, it had less number of days with bad quality air than it did last year.

October 2018 had 17 days with ‘poor’ air quality, 10 days with ‘very poor’ air quality and one day with ‘severe’ air quality.

Though Delhi had more number of days with ‘severe’ quality air this October, on average there were less number of days when the air was ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’.

In 2019, October had zero days with good air quality (less than 50 AQI), two days with ‘satisfactory’ (

Interestingly, Diwali, during which the season picks up the maximum pollutants owing to various factors, happened earlier than it did last year.

In 2018, Diwali happened on November 7 but October still had more ‘very’ polluted days than it did this year. In 2019, Diwali was celebrated on October 27, which is eleven days earlier than last year.

During the month of October, the incidences of stubble burning are usually on the rise in the north-western part of India as farmers switch crops for the season. This increases the pollutant levels in the air. The Data Intelligence Unit had found that there were more than 1,200 stubble burning incidents had happened a day before Diwali this year.


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