NEW DELHI: Sharp drop in the minimum temperature caused the air quality in Delhi-NCR to turned 'severe' on Sunday and as per the Met it will remain so till Monday morning as such physical activities outdoors should not be encouraged.
"Overall air quality in Delhi is in the severe plus zone and it is expected to remain in that range until tomorrow. Thereafter, it will start to improve slowly and may touch 'very poor' category," System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR) said in its forecast.
Delhi recorded the coldest morning on Sunday in December with the minimum temperature dropping to 3.7 degrees Celsius but the Met predicted an increase in temperature over the next few days.
"Currently, cold wave conditions are prevailing over northwest India which is causing the temperature in Delhi and adjoining areas to drop significantly but over the next two-three days, southwesterly winds will come in and increase the temperature by one-two degrees," an India Meteorological Department (IMD) official said.
The fall in temperature has also led to moderate to dense fog during the morning with visibility in Safdarjung area observed around 300 metres at 8.30 a.m.
As per the IMD, Monday will witness moderate to dense fog in the morning and haze later in the day.
"The rest of the day will be partly covered with clouds with the maximum temperature reaching 23 degrees Celsius and the minimum hovering around 5 to 6 degrees Celsius," the Met said.
In terms of pollution, the Air Quality Index (AQI) of Delhi was recorded at 471. The average concentration of particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10) in Delhi was also in the 'severe' category at 408 and 588 microgrammes per cubic metre, respectively.
With toxic pollutants reaching 'severe' levels, experts have advised to avoid all physical activity outdoors, including morning walks and not to rely on dust masks for protection against pollutants. "Instead use N-95 or P-100 respirators when stepping outdoors."