More than 300 arrested as New Delhi plunged into toxic Diwali smog

Delhi gasps for breath after Diwali firework frenzy

The smog over Delhi has thickened in last 48 hours, after the Diwali celebrations which led to an unprecedented increase in the pollution.

Besides fire-related injuries, the national capital Thursday saw cases of allergy and respiratory complications.

The Centre's System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) index showed the PM2.5 level at 303 micrograms per cubic metre, making it over five times the standard of 60.

Vehicles on Delhi roads generate roughly 20 per cent of these tiny particles in air, which can be absorbed into the bloodstream and which are linked to chronic bronchitis, lung cancer and heart disease.

A thick cloud of toxic smog almost 10 times the recommended limit continued to envelop Delhi on Friday as the air quality deteriorated and was. recorded under "hazardous" category.

Early morning ambient air quality readings in Delhi - the world's most polluted major city, according to the World Health Organisation - touched 526, according to the U.S. embassy in the city which independently monitors pollution levels. The US Embassy in the Delhi - which according to the World Health Organization is the most polluted city on Earth - said its readings touched 526.

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Following Supreme Court guidelines, the state had decided on a 2-hour window of 8 pm to 10 pm to burst crackers. The day after Diwali, November 8, however, saw a higher concentration of PM 2.5, at 127 µg/m3, and PM 10, at 195.3µg/m3, which fall in the "very poor" and "poor" category respectively.

According to SAFAR, the air quality in Delhi had "improved significantly" since Thursday, but the recovery was "slow due to low surface wind speed".

On Thursday, the PM2.5 level was recorded at 492 gm-3, more than eight times the permissable limit. The Central Pollution Control Board's (CPCB) air quality forecast suggests that air quality will continue at "very poor" levels for the next three days across NCR.

The areas where the violations were recorded included Mayur Vihar Extension, Lajpat Nagar, Lutyens' Delhi, IP extension, Dwarka and Noida Sector 78.

Twitter users took to the microblogging site posting pictures of people burning crackers wearing masks and slammed the "mass contempt" of Supreme Court's order.

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