Navbharat Times published an article on the 9th of November, 2018 which claimed that firecrackers on Diwali have inflicted terrible damage to the air quality of Delhi. The headline of the article which reads, “बैन के बावजूद फोड़े 50 लाख किलो पटाखे, 77 गुना तक बढ़ा प्रदूषण” suggests that firecrackers increased the pollution levels by 77 times.
However, later in their own report, they claim that the Particulate Matter (pm) 2.5 levels had actually reached levels which were more than 77 times of what could be construed as safe. Therefore, unlike what the headline suggests, firecrackers had not increased pm 2.5 levels in Delhi by 77 times, only that pm 2.5 levels were more than 77 times of what could be construed as safe. There’s a huge difference between the two.
This is not all. Even the conclusion they reached was based on dubious data.
For instance, the report claims that pm 2.5 levels at Wazirpur, Delhi was 4680 mgcm at 1 AM. But according to National Air Quality Index data by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), pm 2.5 level at 1 am at Wazirpur was 419 (average) with a maximum of 500 and a minimum of 319 and the Air Quality Index (AQI) was 419 which can be categorized as severe. Same time the previous night, Wazirpur had an AQI of 357.
The weirdest thing here is mgcm is not a valid unit for measurement of pm 2.5 levels. The level is defined as a number of particles per unit of volume. Therefore the correct unit would be mg per cm cubed. The CBCP measures it in terms of mg per metre cubed. Therefore, even their standard of measurement of pm 2.5 is wrong. And if that wasn’t enough, they compared their data, which does not reflect a legitimate unit of measurement, with the 60 mg per meter cubed levels of pm 2.5 at safe levels and reached the conclusion that the concentration of pm 2.5 in the air had reached a point that was 77 times that of safe levels.
Thus, it appears that Navbharat Times published an entire report with wrong data which is extremely unlikely to have come from any reliable source. It is a bit perplexing that they reached such far-reaching conclusions on the basis of data that does not even use a valid unit of measurement. More importantly, the website for checking the National Air Quality Index by the CBCB does not mention any area in Delhi where the pm 2.5 levels exceeded 500. The whole report is utterly absurd.