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Delhi Announces 14-Point Guidelines To Prevent Dust Pollution: Are You Aware Of The Health Effects Of Dust?

The guidelines include treatment for every construction worker working on the site.

Delhi is the world's most polluted capital, according to the IQAir's 2020 World Air Quality report. Construction is a major source of dust pollution.

Written by Longjam Dineshwori |Updated : September 18, 2021 11:31 AM IST

The Delhi government has made it mandatory for all private construction agencies operating in the national capital to follow 14-point guidelines while carrying out a construction work to prevent dust pollution. Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai announced the guidelines on Friday during a meeting, which was attended by representatives of more than 50 major private construction companies, including L&T, GMR Group, Raheja Developers, Delhi Metro Pvt Ltd, and NBCC.

Among others, the 14-point guidelines include:

  • setting up of dust/wind-breaking walls of appropriate height around the periphery of the construction site
  • installation of anti-smog gun(s) for over 20,000 square metres built-up area
  • anti-dust masks along with arrangements for medical help
  • investigation, and
  • treatment for every construction worker working on the site.

Speaking to media after the meeting, Rai said the guidelines were introduced as "it was observed many private agencies involved in construction contribute to the dust pollution problem." The construction agencies are given a time frame of 15 days to go through and discuss the guidelines.

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The minister added that strict action will be taken against private agencies found not following the norms as per the Winter Action Plan - a plan of action being prepared by the Delhi government to curb the rising problem of pollution in the city. It is due to be finalised by September 30.

Health hazards of dust pollution

The effects of dust on human health depends on the type and size of a dust particle. Inhalable dust particles can lead to irritation of the eyes, coughing, sneezing, hay fever, asthma attacks. Very small dust particles that are invisible to the naked eye can penetrate deeper into the lungs and damage the organs. Respirable dust particles like asbestos, quartz (crystalline silica) can cause scarring of the lungs, fibrosis as well as cancer.

For those with pre-existing respiratory conditions like asthma, chronic obstructive airways disease (COAD) or emphysema, even small increases in dust concentration can worsen their symptoms. Over time, breathing in high concentrations of dust may reduce lung function and contribute to disorders like chronic bronchitis.

Babies and young children, elderly people (65 years or above), people with pre-existing respiratory and heart conditions are more likely to develop health problems from long term exposure to high levels of dust.

See a doctor if you regularly experience shortness of breath or hay fever type symptoms from breathing dust.

Delhi is the world's most polluted capital

Delhi was ranked the world's most polluted capital for the third straight year in 2020 by the IQAir's World Air Quality report released March this year. The Swiss technology company measures air quality levels based on the concentration of PM2.5, which are airborne particles with less than 2.5 microns in diameter. Prolonged exposure to PM2.5 is known to cause cancer and cardiac problems.

The report also revealed that 35 of the world's 50 most polluted cities are in India. Delhi's average annual concentration of PM2.5 in a cubic meter of air was 84.1 in 2020, more than double the level of Beijing, which was ranked the 14th most polluted city in the world.

Another joint study by Greenpeace Southeast Asia Analysis and IQAir revealed that air pollution led to an estimated 54,000 premature deaths in New Delhi in 2020.

Transportation, biomass burning for cooking, electricity generation, industry, construction, waste burning, and episodic agricultural burning were identified as major sources of India's air pollution.

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