India’s national capital used radio waves to battle air quality during the city’s half marathon


  • The Airtel Delhi half-marathon race tried using ultra-high frequency radio waves to cleanse air for runners.
  • The organisers also used other conventional measures like spraying water vapour from a height of 20 ft to reduce smog.
  • New Delhi’s air quality has been ranging between 301 to 400 which is in the ‘very poor’ category.
In a battle against the national capital’s worsening air quality, the organisers of the New Delhi half-marathon used ultra-high frequency (UHF) radio waves to make the environment conducive for the participants. The UHF technology, manufactured by a Bengaluru-based, Devic Earth, broadcasts radio waves that reduce air pollutants like carbon-dioxide, nitrogen-dioxide and sulphur-dioxide by 30%-40%.

The Delhi half marathon organisers signed on Devic Earth to install two of these machines along the race routes. One of the machines was installed at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium whereas the other was set up outside the Le Meridien hotel on Janpath.

According to the company’s website, the Pure Skies Technology system can improve air quality by 33%. Moreover, the devices installed over the rooftop (for external air quality check) covers an average area of 10-20 km. But, the company refuted the fact that the central environment ministry had pumped in ₹5.5 lac as initial capital to commence the project.

The event organisers also tried other tried-and-tested measures like dampening the dust, treating the roads with reagents and spraying water vapour.

The Airtel Delhi half-marathon was called-off last year due to toxic smog which covered the whole city just before the Diwali festival. The celebration period during Diwali contributes significantly to polluting the city and causing the air quality to plummet. Apart from this, vehicular pollution is another contributing factor which worsens pollution levels every year.

In a conversation with Business Insider India, one of the race participants, Sukriti Kalra, said, “Generally, I go for a daily run and struggle with a lot of smog but yesterday I felt that the measures taken by the New Delhi half-marathon team had improved air quality. The efforts seem to be pretty effective. The organisers took care of all the requirements, particularly cleansing the air for the runners, which made a difference for the race participants.”

The company or the organisers did not reveal the results of using the machine but data from tracking devices at the Delhi Pollution Control committee at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium revealed that PM 2.5 and PM 10 were recorded at beyond 200 micrograms per cubic metre, much above the acceptable limit. The level of particulate matter plummeted on the morning of the race day, but it also jumped quickly during the daytime.

Surprisingly, pollution experts are not sure of the after-effects of using this technology to curb the air pollution issue in Delhi. However, the race organiser did seek an approval before installing the machines and was given a go ahead. There were also concerns about the use of radio wave technology as it impacts the ecology adversely. Pollution experts have strongly recommended checking environmental impact of using such radio wave technology prior to using machines like these on a mass level.

The recent data by System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR), has revealed that the Air Quality Index of India’s capital remains ‘very poor’, ranging between 301 to 400.

In order to contain the pollution issue in New-Delhi, the central government has formed Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority, also known as EPCA. The government body, powered by Supreme Court, will work on measures to reduce pollution in the national capital region (NCR).
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