HYDERABAD: Experts warned city residents to safeguard themselves from dipping air quality, brought on by the onset of winter, and protect themselves from pollution by avoiding stepping out in the morning and night, wearing masks and taking preventive measures.
Over the past 10 days, a dip in temperatures caused a dip in the air quality of the city, with pockets of Banjara Hills, Koti, Central University, Saidabad and areas near the Zoo Park reeling from air pollution.
On Wednesday, the air quality index (AQI) of Hyderabad was 103, classified as ‘moderate’, according to the daily air quality bulletin issued by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
An AQI of 0-50 is classified as ‘good’, 51-100 as ‘satisfactory’, 101-200 as ‘moderate’, 201-300 as ‘poor’, 301-400 as ‘very poor’ and 400+ as ‘severe.’
The AQI of Hyderabad has largely been in the ‘moderate zone’ over the past 10 days, with the city last recording a ‘satisfactory’ reading on November 15, with an AQI of 87, according to CPCB data.
Officials of the India Meteorological Department said that Hyderabad was witnessing relatively warmer temperatures over the past week, but mercury levels are likely to dip from November 25, compounding the problem further.
Dr K. Nagaratna, the head scientist of IMD-Hyderabad, said, “Thicker and denser fog and mist are anticipated, especially after December 1. It is expected to be chilly between 4 am and 8 am. Some places tend to be cooler than others due to various factors.”
Pockets of Patancheru, Hakimpet, Shamshabad and Dundigal, among others, tend to have temperatures about 2-3° Celsius lower than other places in the city.
She said that lower temperatures correspond to poorer AQI due to the phenomenon of ‘temperature inversion’, which causes pollutants to settle closer to the ground due to thick fog blankets and slower winds that generally disperse the pollutants.
Doctors, meanwhile, warned of dipping temperatures and poor air quality leading to a rise in respiratory issues, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Dr Mahboob Khan, superintendent, Government Chest Hospital, Erragadda, said, “This is more likely to happen among children who venture out during the early hours of the day to reach school and/or are stuck in traffic jams where particulate matter peaks. When this fog is inhaled, it causes great damage to lungs and further worsens the condition of those who already have a pre-existing lung illness.”
He advised pregnant women, especially those in the third trimester, and nursing mothers to protect themselves from pollution. “Foetuses and infants, whose lungs are developing, are at a greater risk,” he explained.
Dr Khan advised people to exercise indoors during winter and wear protective gear against cold and pollution, such as masks, sweaters and socks. “Avoid night journeys as much as possible and carry reliever medication during this time,” he said.