Winter and Air Pollution- Why Does Air Quality Deteriorate as Temperature Drops

Air pollution is a reason of concern globally. In recent years, India has been the center of attention, when it comes to the deteriorating air quality in winter. Come winter and every year the air quality deteriorates. Not just Delhi, but almost all the metros start choking as a result of smog. The Environment Performance Index (EPI) ranked India 141 out of 180 in 2016. Burning of waste, biomass, and crop residue are some of the main reasons for excessive levels of air pollution, especially in winter. However, the question is, why does the air quality deteriorate more during winter? Read on to find out.

why is air pollution worse in winter

The Relation Between Dipping Temperature and Air Pollution

Air pollution is prevalent throughout the year. In fact, metros like Delhi didn’t have a single day of good air quality during summer in the last year. However, the pollution level, especially in North Indian states, increases post-Diwali as a result of atmospheric conditions and human factors. Winter inversion, valley effect in addition to industrial emissions, vehicular emissions are some of the reasons for the increasing amount of air pollution in winter. Dust storms, crop fires, burning of solid fuels for heating, as well as firecracker-related pollution during Diwali also increases winter pollution.

What is Winter Inversion?

During summer, the lowest layer of the atmosphere is warmer and lighter as compared to winter, which makes it easy for air to rise upwards. As a result, the pollutants are carried away from the ground. However, during winter, the air near the atmosphere of the earth is dense and cooler. The warm air traps the cool air and forms a kind of atmospheric lid, which is known as inversion. The vertical mixing of air happens within this layer, as a result of which the pollutants disperse back in the atmosphere. The effects of inversion are strong at night for which the air quality deteriorates at night. This is the reason why experts advise you to avoid going for morning walks or exercise in the morning as the pollution levels are high.

So Why is PM2.5 High in Winter?

The level of PM2.5 is exceptionally high in winter. The reason is a lot of polluting activities increase during winter. Burning of biomass to warm up their homes, end of the harvest season, which consists of burning stubble off the fields increase during winter. The increasing number of brick kilns, which operate mainly in winter is another major reason of high level of PM2.5 in winter. In fact, 15% of PM 2.5 that affects Delhi is because of brick kilns. During winter, cool air stagnates over the city and keeps pollution close to the surface. As a result, the persistent fog in Delhi only worsens in winter.

How Does Pollution Affect Indoor Air?

The deteriorating air quality has an effect on indoor air quality. The increasing level of PM2.5 and other pollutants deteriorate the indoor air quality. Air leaks and lack of insulation at home help pollutants to enter homes. When contaminants can’t escape your home, they gather and start quickly multiplying. The presence of bacteria, viruses, mold spores, and dust mites can make you sick, especially if you don’t have a strong immune system.

The Possible Solution

KENT Aura

The only way to deal with indoor air pollution is by installing an air purifier. The HEPA filters present in an air purifier catch and trap pollutants as small as 0.3 microns to make the indoor air clean and dust-free. The different stages of the purification process remove contaminants of different sizes so that you stay safe from pollution. To find out more about air purifiers, click here.

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