- Delhi's air pollution has reached severe levels with AQI above 300
- Declare air pollution in Delhi a National Health Emergency: IMA
- Indian Medical Association calls for cancellation of all outdoor activities
The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has declared a National Health Emergency on November 7, as air pollution levels exceeded several times above the permissible limits. Earlier on November 3, the IMA had asked for a declaration of national health emergency when the air pollution levels in the city entered near-severe levels. Following IMA’s declaration on November 7, schools have been asked to remain shut till November 12. The medical body has also recommended stoppage of outdoor activities to ensure that children and elderly did not fall ill. Delhi’s Air Quality Index (AQI) levels were at 448 at 4 pm on November 7, indicating hazardous levels of air pollution. The average AQI of Delhi remains at 300, indicating severe air pollution as the safe limit for AQI is 0-50. Dr K.K. Aggarwal, National President, Indian Medical Association said,
Patients who are sensitive to respiratory diseases may find it difficult to breathe if the AQI is somewhere between 50 to 100. An AQI of above 300 makes it difficult not only for people with respiratory problems, but healthy people as well. Hence, it is advisable that people do not go out early in the morning when pollution levels are the highest.
Poor air quality may result in the aggravation of asthma, blood pressure and even cardiovascular diseases. The IMA has advised people not to go out in morning till the situation improves. In an advisory to address air pollution in Delhi, Dr Aggarwal said that merely walking could result in health complications due to the high concentration of particulate matter (PM) 2.5 in Delhi’s air.
The medical body has called for an immediate cancellation of the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon, scheduled to begin on November 19 at 7 am. Citing high levels of air pollution, the IMA has asked for the marathon to be cancelled as it will lead to severe health complications of both healthy people, as well as those already suffering from respiratory issues.
The recent cricket and football matches held in Delhi should also not have been organised as any draining physical activity amidst such highly polluted air can cause significant health hazards. If AQI goes above 300, people should stay indoors and if the levels go above 400, routine activities should also be stopped,” said Dr Aggarwal.
The air pollution levels in Delhi have been high for the past few weeks and are projected to remain so in the coming days. Stubble burning from Punjab and Haryana persists despite National Green Tribunal order to the respective states to take measures to stop the crop burning. This is cited as one of the primary reasons for the deterioration in the air quality of Delhi and is also resulting in more people being hospitalised as many major city hospitals have seen a spike in the number of patients with respiratory issues. The Indian Medical Association plans to write to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Chief Justice of Delhi High Court and the National Green Tribunal regarding this matter.