Ground Level Ozone – a Deadly Air Pollutant that’s Posing a Serious Threat in Delhi

Delhi, a city which is always in the grip of deadly pollution, has seen a deadly increase in ozone levels. Not just Delhi, but several other cities such as Faridabad, Gurugram, Ghaziabad, and Noida have also witnessed a spike in the ozone level. The serious situation has, in fact, become a topic of discussion in Lok Sabha during the current Parliament session. An analysis by Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi has revealed that many densely populated areas have exceeded the ozone standards after analysing the past 12 days. Considering the alarming situation, we will discuss in detail about the causes, effects, and solution for ozone pollution.

ozone pollution in delhi

World Ozone Day- Theme and Importance

Also known as the International Day for the Preservation of Ozone Layer, the United Nations General Assembly designated September 16th as World Ozone Day. The day was designated in memory when nations inked the Montreal Protocol on Substances that lead to Ozone Layer Depletion.

The theme of this year’s World Ozone Day 2019 is- 32 Years and Healing. The theme celebrates more than three decades of international cooperation to protect the climate and ozone layer under the Montreal Protocol. The Protocol has been successful in phasing out 99 percent of ozone-depleting chemicals in different products such as air coolers and refrigerators.

The Rising Risk of Ozone Pollution in Delhi

High pollution, rising temperature levels, and heat waves have increased the formation of ozone and exceeded the standards. Dwarka, Ashok Vihar, Bawana, Vivek Vihar, Sri Aurobindo Marg are some of the locations that have noticed an increase in the ozone level. In fact, 38 per cent among the 36 locations has exceeded the eight-hour average standard of ozone. According to the AQI data released by CPCB, ozone and PM 2.5 have been the prominent pollutants between April 11 to June 5, 2019. The highest concentration of ozone in 2019 went up to 122 micrograms per cu m. This is 1.22 times higher than the eight-hour average exposure in 100 micrograms per cu m. The eye-opening year to year comparison table will give a clear idea about the number of days some of the prominent cities have witnessed increases ozone level:

City 2016 2017 2018 2019 (May 31)
Delhi 36 14 45 23
Faridabad 3 0 8 55
Gurugram 43 0 5 6
Ghaziabad 0 8 3
Noida 33 16 0

(Source: Central Pollution Control Board via MoEF)

What Causes Ground-Level Ozone Pollution?

Ozone (O3), composed of three atoms of oxygen, is not directly emitted into the atmosphere. Ground-level ozone is created as a result of a reaction between nitrogen oxide (NOX) and volatile organic compounds in sunlight. Ground level ozone is considered bad as it leads to a number of problems. Industrial emission, motor vehicle exhaust, chemical solvents, and gasoline vapor emit ground-level ozone. Natural sources such as NOX and VOC also emit ground-level ozone. The primary constituent of smog is ground level ozone. Heat waves, sunlight and hot weather along with ground-level ozone lead to the formation of harmful concentration in air. This is the reason why ground level ozone is also known as summertime pollutant.

The Health Effects of Ozone Air Pollution

High levels of ozone present in the atmosphere has a negative effect on health. People suffering from asthma, children, older adults, and people indulging in outdoor activities are at a higher risk of ozone pollution. Breathing ozone can lead to the following problems:

  • Chest pain
  • Coughing
  • Throat irritation
  • Inflammation in the airway
  • Affect the lung function
  • Harm the lung tissues
  • Worsen bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma
  • Increase the frequency of asthma attacks
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (CoPD)

Does Ozone Pollution Affect Indoor Air?

The high level of air pollution has a negative impact on indoor air and lead to a number of health problems. The outdoor air pollutants infiltrate into your home in a number of ways such as open windows, doors, cracks in the walls and window sealants. Ground level ozone and other gases, which penetrate into your home using through the ventilation process, react with the chemicals present in the building and create harmful chemical byproducts. Research shows that indoor ozone, present even in low levels, can lead to a number of health problems such as trigger asthma and respiratory problems.

How can you protect yourself from high ozone levels

The best way to reduce exposure to rising ozone pollution during summer is to monitor the ozone levels in your area and take the required action. Here are a few useful suggestions to stay safe from ozone pollution:

Monitor the Air Quality

The first step is to monitor the air quality of the area where you live. There are websites that provide you information about the air quality and ozone levels.

Stay Indoors

If possible, stay indoors when pollution is high. As per EPA, the concentration of ozone indoor varies between approximately 20-80% of the outdoor level. However, this percentage also depends on whether the windows are open or closed, air conditioning system used.

Use an Air Purifier

Air purifiers with activated carbon filter are effective in removing ozone. The activated carbon filters contain bituminous coal that reduces the level of ozone in your home. The air purifiers from KENT are highly effective in keeping the indoor air clean and remove different types of pollutants.

Last Few Words

Ozone is a deadly gas and even a short duration of exposure to ozone worsens asthma and respiratory conditions. Considering the alarming situation, it’s high time to take the right steps such as reducing emissions and burning waste. Controlling the current situation will take constant efforts and time, however, taking these small steps will ensure that the problem doesn’t increase in the coming years and pose a risk to mankind.

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