India Air Pollution: Air So Dirty Your Head Hurts
|Source：BLATN Time：2017-11-14 Reading times：113|
Air Pollution in India: Air So Dirty Your Head Hurts
NEW DELHI — A toxic cloud has descended on India’s capital, delaying flights and trains, causing coughs, headaches and even highway pileups,
and prompting Indian officials on Wednesday to take the unprecedented step of closing 4,000 schools for nearly a week.
Delhi has notoriously noxious air but even by the standards of this city, this week’s pollution has been alarming, reaching levels nearly 30 times what the World Health Organization considers safe.
On Tuesday, the government decided to close primary schools and on Wednesday the closings were extended to all public and most private schools.
For those of us living here, the air pollution saps our strength. Many people feel nauseated all day, like from a never-ending case of car sickness.
The air tastes smoky and irritates the throat, and in some neighborhoods, it smells like paint.
Even if you have air filters in your house, as some of us do, a faint lingering chemical smell always seems to find its way in, through air-conditioner vents, open windows and cracks in the doors.
Manish Sisodia, the deputy chief minister of Delhi State, said he was driving to a meeting Wednesday morning when he passed a school bus and saw two children throwing up out of the window.
“That was shocking for me,” he said. “I immediately told my officers to pass the order to close all the schools.”Continue reading the main story
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In some parts of the city, the levels of PM 2.5 — insidiously small particles that can settle deep in the lungs — had climbed to more than 700 micrograms per cubic meter,
which is considered hazardous to breathe, according to data provided by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee.
Scientists estimate these particles have killed millions.
Sadly accustomed to toxic air, many of Delhi’s people are donning masks of one sort or another.
It’s not unusual to see a man whizzing by on a motorcycle with a T-shirt wrapped over most of his face.
On Wednesday, we saw one young woman standing on a sidewalk clutching a clump of her long dark hair over her mouth to act as a veil.
Hanging low and thick, the smog looks like a blend of white smoke and fog.
It is a combination of vehicle emissions, industrial pollution and smoke from crop burning in nearby farming areas.
The colder weather at this time of year packs the pollution together, making it even worse.
The decentralized governance system here complicates things because the rural areas burning the crops fall under different jurisdictions than the urban areas suffering the smog.
In a statement released on Wednesday, Mr. Sisodia said the air pollution had “engulfed the city.”
Pollution levels will be reassessed over the weekend, he said, and a decision made about whether schools should remain closed for longer.
Air pollution levels this year are on par with ones recorded in the city last November, when the Indian government closed 1,800 primary schools for three days.
Newspaper stories from then read almost identical to those today, down to stories about car pileups on the highway.