Did Delhi Air Quality Have a “Good” November?

Although Delhi air pollution is already extremely dangerous in the summer months, Delhi air quality levels worse in the winter months. In particular, November is the month when air quality usually starts deteriorating due to factors like crop burning, Diwali, and a drop in temperature. Many use air purifiers at home and wear masks while outdoors to reduce the air pollution that enters their body.

There were news reports that Delhi’s PM2.5 levels in November 2022 were the lowest in the last six years. So, we dug into the Delhi PM2.5 data to understand whether Delhi breathes better air this November or not.

We used data available from the US Embassy to analyze Delhi’s November pollution levels over the past six years from 2016-2022.

YearMonthly Average PM2.5 (μg/m3)
Nov 2016295
Nov 2017272
Nov 2018182
Nov 2019205
Nov 2020202
Nov 2021225
Nov 2022171
Delhi's Average PM2.5 (November)

This data suggests that the air quality in Delhi this November was the lowest in six years with a monthly average of 176 ug/m3. While November 2016 was the worst with an average concentration of 295 ug/m3.

Delhi’s November PM2.5 Drops 32% Compared to 2021

If we compare November month in 2022 to the 2021 average, PM2.5 has dropped 32% in 2022! Unfortunately, levels are still extremely high and dangerous. 171 micrograms is still 34 times higher than the WHO PM2.5 limit.

2021 vs. 2022: Delhi's Average PM2.5 (November)

Why Have Delhi Pollution Levels Declined This November?

According to the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology’s Decision Support System, the farm fire contrition to Delhi’s pollution decreased to 6.5 % from 9% compared to 2021. However, do note that three cloudy days in Punjab might have temporarily stopped crop burning detection by the satellite.  

Punjabi fires down in November 2022
Image courtesy: CEEW India

Another reason for the reduction in PM2.5 levels is an increase in average wind speed in Delhi. Per reports, the average wind speeds in November 2022 were 30 % higher than in November 2021. The data suggest that higher wind speeds help reduce pollution.

Bottom Line: Delhi's air improved a bit. But...

Delhi’s air in November has seen a bit of improvement over the last year. However, Delhi’s air pollution levels are still dangerously high. The monthly average of 171µg/m3 is 34 times higher than the WHO limit. The reductions should not affect the use of tools to reduce the air pollution you breathe, including the use of air purifiers and masks.

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