Delhi Air Pollution: Causes, Effects, AQI Delhi Today

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Nov 10, 2022, 16:16

It is that time of the year again when the AQI Delhi is in the 'Severe' category. The capital of India, Delhi, is considered one of the world's most polluted cities by WHO, according to a survey comprising 1,650 cities across the globe. In fact, the survey shows that of all the major global cities, Delhi pollution level is the worst. The poor Delhi AQI, apart from causing massive cases of chronic bronchitis and asthma, is also perpetuating a negative impact on children's health.

Nearly 2.2 million children, which amounts to 50% of the total population of children in Delhi, are showcasing irreversible damage in their lungs due to uncontrolled exposure to the toxic Delhi AQI. Here, we have discussed what AQI is, and the causes and effects of the Delhi pollution.

What is AQI?

AQI stands for the Air Quality Index, which is used to measure the quality of air in a particular region. AQI runs from level 0 to 500, and the higher the AQI, the greater the air pollution level. The recent Delhi AQI has been between 'Unhealthy' to 'Hazardous' levels.

Delhi pollution level was the worst in November 2021, when the AQI was recorded as 377. This year also, the pollution levels have been in the 'Hazardous' category.

Air Quality Index: Delhi

Each year, in the month of October-November, the air quality in Delhi becomes worse due to the burning of crop residue in the nearby regions and other factors. Here, we have shared the worst-recorded Delhi AQI for each month in 2022:

Date & Month

AQI Delhi

21st January


6th February


31st March


19th April


16th May


8th June


4th July


31st August


30th September


31st October


3rd November




Delhi Pollution Level in 2021

In 2021, Delhi was the 13th most polluted city globally, with an average AQI of 178. Interestingly, Faridabad, Gurugram, Noida, and Ghaziabad - which make up the National Capital Territory of India - made it to the top 10 of the most polluted city list. Here's a list of Delhi AQI levels for each month in 2021:


AQI in Delhi

























Causes of Delhi Pollution

Here are some of the top causes of pollution in Delhi which contribute to making the Delhi AQI bad:

  • One of the prime causes of Delhi's air pollution is emissions from motor vehicles.
  • Apart from that, rampant construction, industrialization of the nearby rural areas, combustion of cow dung, garbage burning, etc., have been the other major causes of Delhi pollution.
  • Agricultural stubble burning has also been one of the menaces causing tremendous air pollution in the capital city of India.
  • Added to it, the firecrackers burnt during various social and religious events are also responsible for the vaulting air pollution level.

Effects of Poor Air Quality in Delhi

The Supreme Court of India, in one of its historical statements on Delhi pollution, said, "Delhi has become worse than narak (hell)." In fact, Justice Arun Mishra went on record saying that it was better to blow up Delhi with explosives and kill everyone rather than live in the claustrophobic conditions of Delhi.

Essentially, the effects of the poor Delhi AQI are massive, and here, we have discussed the effects on children and adults:

Effects of Delhi AQI on Children

The excessive pollution quotient in Delhi may have adverse effects on the immune systems of the children and risk heinous diseases, including diabetes, cancer, epilepsy, and even autoimmune conditions such as multiple sclerosis. Since children's bodies are in a developing stage, they tend to breathe in more air as per their body weight, making them more vulnerable to rising pollution.

Effects of Delhi Pollution on Adults

In adults, too, the effects of air pollution in Delhi are immense. It is causing a plethora of health issues, such as persistent headaches, reduced lung capacity, fatigue, cough, sore throats, lung cancer, and a reduction in overall life expectancy.

How to Make the Delhi Air Quality Better?

In recent years, Delhi has been consistently coming under the radar for being one of the most polluted cities in the world. The Delhi government, along with the centre and the Supreme Court, are implementing various rules to regulate the traffic and stubble burning in nearby areas to curb pollution. Additionally, the further causes of such severe Delhi pollution are being identified to subsequently take the necessary measures.

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FAQs on Delhi Air Pollution

Q1. What is the AQI in Delhi today?

On 9th November, the AQI Delhi recorded was 271, which puts the air quality in the 'Unhealthy' category. However, the air quality has improved somewhat compared to the last few days. The poorest air quality recorded this month was AQI 721 on 3rd November.

Q2. What are the effects of Delhi pollution on children?

Apart from causing irreversible damage to their lungs, the poor Delhi AQI is causing heinous diseases, including diabetes, cancer, epilepsy, and even autoimmune conditions such as multiple sclerosis in children.

Q3. What is the main reason behind Delhi pollution?

Although there are many reasons that affect Delhi AQI, emissions from motor vehicles were identified to be the prime reason behind Delhi's poor air quality. Other factors that contribute to this include burning of crop residue in the neighbouring states, etc.

Q4. What kind of diseases are caused by Delhi pollution in adults?

Poor Delhi AQI is causing a plethora of health issues in adults, such as persistent headaches, reduced lung capacity, fatigue, cough, sore throats, lung cancer, and a reduction in overall life expectancy.