This Is What the Air in India's Capital Looks Like
Air pollution hit 'severe' level on air quality index in New Delhi
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 7, 2017 7:52 AM CST
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Indian presidential staff members walk surrounded by smog at the presidential palace in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017. Air pollution in India's capital has hit hazardous levels prompting local officials to ask that school shut down.   (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
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(Newser) – Over the past two years, New Delhi has earned the dubious distinction of being one of the world's most polluted cities, and that reputation doesn't seem to be changing. A thick gray haze enveloped India's capital on Tuesday as air pollution hit hazardous levels, prompting local officials to ask that schools shut down and a half marathon scheduled for later in November be called off. The Indian Medical Association said New Delhi was in the midst of a "public health emergency." The readings of the government's air quality index hovered between 350 and 450, indicating that the health impact of breathing the air was "severe." The highest reading on the Central Pollution Control Board's index is 500, the AP reports.

As winter approaches, a thick, soupy smog routinely envelops most parts of northern India, caused by dust, the burning of crops, emissions from factories, and the burning of coal and piles of garbage as the poor try to keep warm. On Tuesday, Belgium's King Philippe and Queen Mathilde, in India on a weeklong state visit, inspected a military guard of honor at the sprawling presidential palace in New Delhi under a cover of smog that hampered visibility. New Delhi has struggled with putting in place pollution control measures over the last two years. It has tightened vehicle and factory emission norms and reduced the number of cars on the roads on the worst-hit days. But it's had a hard time enforcing laws about crop burning, garbage fires, and construction dust. (These are the 10 US cities with the worst air pollution.)


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