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Delhi’s Hazardous Air Problem

by | Nov 10, 2021 | Climate Change

Pollution levels in the Indian capital city of New Delhi are currently on the upper end of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) category designating ‘very unhealthy’ air, meaning that everyone, especially people with respiratory diseases, should avoid outdoor activity and exercise. Outlawed Diwali fireworks caused particle pollution in the air to soar beginning last week. […]
Chandni Chowk in New Delhi

Pollution levels in the Indian capital city of New Delhi are currently on the upper end of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) category designating ‘very unhealthy’ air, meaning that everyone, especially people with respiratory diseases, should avoid outdoor activity and exercise. Outlawed Diwali fireworks caused particle pollution in the air to soar beginning last week. The government has been trying to aid the situation by deploying water tankers whose sprinkler systems are supposed to remove pollution particles from the air. Specific industries that produce air pollution, like brick kilns or certain electricity producers, were ordered to shut or slow production. On Saturday, high winds provided some relief, but the situation in the Indian capital remains dismal.

Data reported by the U.S. embassy in the city show how dangerously high the levels of PM2.5 (atmospheric particulate matter that have a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers) had become in recent days. The worst readings were for Friday through Sunday, the days directly following Diwali, with PM2.5 levels above 300 in the EPA category of ‘hazardous’. With air in this category, everyone should avoid activities outside or risk serious side effects.

While Delhi is no stranger to air pollution extremes, especially after Diwali, the whole country is one of the worst-affected when it comes to air pollution and the shortened life expectancy connected to it.

This chart shows the daily average PM2.5 levels recorded at the U.S. embassy in New Delhi.

Katharina Buchholz
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