Smog more toxic than can be measured by monitoring devices has blanketed the Indian capital this week, months before the start of Delhi’s traditional “pollution season”.
A thick haze was visible across the city from Tuesday and some government pollution monitors have recorded concentrations of 999 – the highest they can measure – as dust storms kicked up in nearby Rajasthan state blanketed the region.
Concern about north India’s air quality crisis is usually most acute after the Hindu festival of Diwali in autumn, when hundreds of thousands of Indians release firecrackers that combine with existing pollutants to form a poisonous haze over the region that persists for months until temperatures cool. Public health experts said pollution levels on some days in November last year were the equivalent of smoking 50 cigarettes per day.
India, home to 14 of the world’s top 20 most polluted cities, has the highest rate of respiratory diseases of any country. A leading lung specialist, Arvind Kumar, says the cancer patients he sees Delhi are younger, more often female and more likely to be non smokers than those outside the city.
Children are the most vulnerable: a 2015 study concluded about half Delhi’s 4.4m schoolchildren had stunted lung development and would never completely recover.
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|Source: The Guardian|