Delhi Grapples with Soaring Levels of Hazardous Nanoparticles in Urban Air: study

Climate Study Reveals Alarming Health Concerns as Nanoparticle Levels Surge in the National Capital’s Air

As winter approaches and concerns over deteriorating air quality mount, a recent study conducted by climate researchers and experts reveals alarming findings about Delhi’s air quality. The national capital is experiencing a concerning increase in levels of nanoparticles in the urban air, particularly in roadside environments.

Nanoparticles, minuscule particles measuring between 10 to 1000 nanometers (nm) in diameter, are posing a significant threat to public health. These particles, smaller than PM 2.5 or PM 10, can infiltrate deep into the lungs, bloodstream, and even the brain, making them more hazardous to human health.

The study, published in the peer-reviewed international journal Urban Climate, was conducted by Dr. Rajeev Kumar Mishra, Assistant Professor from the Department of Environmental Engineering at Delhi Technological University, along with researchers S. Ramachandran from the Physical Research Laboratory in Ahmedabad and Kanagaraj Rajagopal from the Advance Air and Acoustics Research Laboratory at Delhi Technological University.

The research was conducted on Bawana road in the northwest part of Delhi, a region characterized by high vehicular density, with around 1,300 vehicles per hour and an average of 40,000 vehicles per day. The study covered two periods: April 1, 2021, to June 30, 2021 (Period I), and October 3, 2021, to November 30, 2021 (Period II).

Dr. Mishra highlighted, “The study revealed that the concentration of nanoparticles in urban roadside microenvironments fluctuates with variations in vehicular activity, especially emissions from vehicles.” Notably, nanoparticles in the 10 to 1000 nm size range, directly linked to vehicular engine exhaust, were found in higher quantities near the roadside.

Furthermore, the study uncovered that during Period I, coinciding with Covid Lockdown measures, nanoparticle concentration decreased by 31% due to reduced vehicular movement and anthropogenic sources. However, during Period II, post-Diwali, particle levels surged by 35%, primarily due to vehicular and firecracker emissions.

The study’s findings also indicated that nanoparticle concentrations were notably higher during peak hours, nearly double that of non-peak hours, underscoring the need for policy measures tailored to particle concentration.

Dr. Mishra emphasized, “The quantitative results of this study can be instrumental in assessing the impact on human health, formulating policies and standards, implementing pollution mitigation strategies, addressing climate change implications, and steering toward a sustainable future.” As Delhi faces this air quality challenge, urgent actions may be required to safeguard public health and the environment.