The smog and pollution in the air of New Delhi, India, has reached levels that make it the most polluted city in the world, surpassing the most polluted cities in China almost fourfold.
The U.S. Embassy in Delhi measured the air at 999 on the Air Quality Index on Monday — and the chart really only goes up to 500. Thick smog has residents buying face masks and air purifiers, if they can find them, and has closed schools for three days in hopes air quality will improve, CNN reported.
The Indian Medical Association is calling the pollution an “epidemic,” Reuters reported, urging people to stay home from school and even from work if possible until conditions improve. PM 2.5, a tiny particulate that gets deep into the lungs, was 30 times higher than permissible levels in some parts of the city Monday.
Seventeen million people live in New Delhi, and the smog and pollution are believed to be a combination of construction dust, smoke from burning farm waste in surrounding areas, fireworks for the Hindu festival of Diwali, and vehicle emissions. Many of the city’s residents still live without clean water and sanitation.
Large numbers of children are being treated at hospitals for asthma attacks, respiratory spasms, pneumonia, and bronchitis, and 5 percent to 10 percent of the workforce has reported being sick in the last week, according to a survey of 150 companies reported by Reuters.
The government is considering bringing back the odd-even system it used last year when pollution was high, which allowed only cars with even license plates on the road one day, then those with odd plates the next day.
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