Air Becomes Unbreathable in Delhi, One of World’s Largest Cities

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The air quality in one of the world’s largest cities became so bad in the past two days that it is not fit to breathe, even for healthy people. Delhi, also known as New Delhi, received an alert from India’s Central Pollution Control Board that listed the quality of the air as “severe.” That means it “affects healthy people and seriously impacts those with existing disease.” The existence of poison particles in the air was 12 times the level recommended by the Indian government.

Delhi generally is considered the world’s 14th largest city, with a population of 26 million in its metro area. Pollution levels in parts of the city reached an index of 500, which is among the highest ever posted in any large city around the world. Very little can be done until the air changes, most often because of weather, usually rainfall. The city has cut truck traffic to zero during some parts of the day, but this will have only a modest effect on the problem.

While the air quality in Delhi is extremely poor at this point, it is usually a problem. It has been listed as the world’s fifth most polluted city. 24/7 Wall St. reported on the issue recently:

Delhi, India is the second most polluted city in India and the fifth most polluted in the world. The average level of concentration of PM2.5 in Delhi is 122 micrograms per cubic meter of air. PM 2.5 air pollution is nearly seven times more concentrated in Delhi than it is in Visalia-Porterville, California, the most polluted metro area in the United States.

India broadcaster NDTV reported that the situation could worsen. “Delhi’s air quality remained severe for the second day on Thursday due to adverse meteorological conditions as authorities warned that the condition would continue to deteriorate unless sufficient rainfall brings respite by cleansing the air.”

Researchers from the WHO Global Urban Ambient Air Pollution Database recently reported that “As urban air quality declines, the risk of stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and chronic and acute respiratory diseases, including asthma, increases for the people who live in them.” The quality decline in Delhi already has reached one of the worst measured levels in the world.