new year fireworks
Increased air pollution levels will be experienced in Europe and Asia. Picture: Fireworks in the University of Philippines. [Representational Image]Wikimedia commons

Even as the world gears up for the New Year, air pollution will play a dampener on celebrations in certain global metropolitan cities. Italy has already issued a directive prohibiting the use of fireworks on New Year.

The European nation has been struggling to lower air pollution level by banning the use of traditional wood-fired ovens nd limiting automobile usage on roads. Milan and Rome stopped traffic for six hours from Monday to Wednesday as the cities were clouded in thick smog.

New Delhi is set to start its odd-even formula on 1 January, allowing odd and even-numbered cars on the roads on alternate days. The air pollution monitoring mechanism System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) has predicted that pollution levels will dip in New Delhi between "moderate" to "very poor" in the New Year.

Citizens of the Philippines have been requested by health and environmental bodies to not use fireworks.

"Aside from the well-reported firecracker-related injuries, the pervasive use of firecrackers and fireworks contributes to air pollution that reaches levels deemed hazardous to human health," Dr Ulysses Dorotheo, chair of the Philippine Medical Association's Environment Health and Ecology Committee, told the Inquirer.

The civic bodies have recommended using homemade paper horns, pots and pans.

The country experienced high levels of pollution during the first half of the year at 130 micrograms per cubic metre when the safe level is 90 micrograms.

Mumbai will have high levels of pollution on New Year, said SAFAR. "The air pollution levels in the city may be between poor and very poor levels on 31 December and 1 January. This can be attributed to low temperatures and high moisture levels. The lights winds will also cause the pollutant particles to be suspended very close to the surface," Gufran Beig, Project Director, SAFAR and scientist, Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune, told TOI.

Air pollution woes for Beijing will also continue as the city is expected to be shrouded with smog on New Year's. The Chinese city saw peak air pollution levels on Christmas Day. Tianjin, Hebei, Henan and Shandong are also expected to experience increased pollution levels.

Shanghai recommended that schoolchildren stay indoors as the PM2.5 level increased to 183 micrograms per cubic metre on Thursday, reported Bloomberg, quoting Shanghai's Air Quality Index. 

Children, the elderly, patients with heart and lung ailments are recommended to stay indoors during days of heightened air pollution.