Delhiites Beware! Formation of ground-level Ozone in city threat to our respiratory health

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Updated: June 21, 2019 2:24 PM

Scientists have warned that there might be an increase in the level of Ozone (O3) during the weekend due to the heatwave and might trouble people with respiratory illness.

Toxic fumes from industries react under sunlight to form Ozone Toxic fumes from industries react under sunlight to form Ozone under high atmospheric temperature

Ozone (O3) is a gas that does miracles for us as it protects us from the Sun’s harmful Ultra-Violet (UV) rays but that is good only when it remains in the stratosphere. If inhaled in a higher amount, Ozone (O3) can lead to serious respiratory as well as health issues. Generally, Ozone (O3) formation occurs at ground level when toxic fumes and gases from vehicles and industries react in the presence of sunlight under high atmospheric temperature.

According to the scientists of the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), the concentration of Ozone (O3) can increase drastically in the next three days because of the rising temperatures. The weather data available on the website of Indian Agricultural Research Institute suggests that the average temperature in Delhi rose by 4.1-degree Celsius in the past three days, rising from 34.4-degree Celsius on Tuesday to 38.5-degree Celsius at 11AM on Friday. Notably, Delhi received drizzles in different areas on Monday due to which the pollution level went down and was moderate till Thursday.

With the Air Quality Index (AQI) at around 141 (On a scale of 0-500), MoES’ scientists said the main pollutant was Ozone (O3) among others. The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) suggested that the temperature will remain around 40-degree Celsius during this weekend. This rise in average temperature can lead to a spike in the formation of Ozone (O3) as a major pollutant in the atmosphere around Delhi NCR along with PM 2.5 and PM 10.

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SAFAR the pollution forecasting agency of Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) in a statement said that the rise in temperature over the weekend are favourable condition for increase in Ozone (O3) production and this might lead to a spike in the overall pollution to poor levels with Ozone (O3) as the major pollutant.

Scientists from SAFAR also said that there has been a consistently notable increase in Ozone (O3) levels because of the heatwave in Delhi. Earlier the temperature rose as much as 48-degree Celsius on June 10, 2019 (all-time high). An increase in Ozone (O3) at ground level is a rare occurrence and is recorded to pollute the environment generally in summers.

According to a data by Centre for Science and Environment the number of days in 2018 with Ozone (O3) as the main pollutant increased by 5 per cent but this year the number boomed to 16 per cent which is far above the prescribed limits. 100 microgram per cubic meter is the eight-hour average standard for Ozone (O3) exposure. In 2019 the highest concentration went to 122 microgram per cubic meter according to the mentioned standards. The numbers went high by 1.22 times in 2019.

The matter is of serious concern as Ozone(O3) is considered as one of the highly reactive gases and can cause severe problems for those already suffering from asthma and respiratory conditions like Pulmonary tuberculosis. If this air quality degradation continues the government might be forced to take action against the vehicles and industries producing the toxic gases (NOx, Hydrocarbons) that uplift the formation of ozone at this level of atmosphere.

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