Other Indian cities join Delhi in air pollution emergency

Other Indian cities join Delhi in air pollution emergency
A boy sits on the shoulder of his mother as they participate in a protest against air pollution in New Delhi, India, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016. Even for a city considered one of the worlds dirtiest, the Indian capital hit a new low this week. Air so dirty you can taste and smell it; a gray haze that makes a gentle stroll a serious health hazard. According to one advocacy group, government data shows that the smog that enveloped the city midweek was the worst in the last 17 years. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

The sickening air pollution that led the Indian capital to shut schools and construction sites this week has prompted similar measures in nearby cities.

Officials in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh said Monday that they expect the acrid smog to blanket the state within days.

For more than a week, New Delhi's skies have been filled with a thick haze that has made people's eyes sting and their throats sore. Air pollution experts blame myriad pollution sources, from diesel-burning cars and seasonal crop burning to garbage fires and stoves fueled with kerosene and cow dung. Winter weather patterns also mean there is less wind to circulate the air.

On Monday, an Indian trade and industry lobby group warned that the pollution could have an economic impact, and released a study suggesting up to 10 percent of workers had called in sick during the last week.

"Environment and air pollution-related issues might hurt Brand India and hit sectors like tourism and outdoor recreation, as people tend to stay away from polluted areas," said D.S. Rawat, secretary general of the Associated Chambers of Commerce of India.

Doctors urged people to avoid going outdoors unless they wear face masks.

Other Indian cities join Delhi in air pollution emergency
Indians sit on the banks of the river Yamuna engulfed with smog in New Delhi, India, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016. The Delhi government has ordered that all city schools be shut, construction activity halted and all roads be doused with water as crippling air pollution has engulfed the Indian capital. The city, one of the world's dirtiest, has seen the levels of PM2.5 soar to over 900 microgram per cubic meter on Saturday, more than 90 times the level considered safe by the World Health Organization and 15 times the Indian government's norms. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

"Higher air pollution levels may take days to settle," said Dr. Surya Kant Tripathi, who heads the pulmonary medicine department at King George's Medical University in Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh.

Lucknow city director J.P. Gupta said the smog covering New Delhi was wafting over western parts of Uttar Pradesh and would soon cover the entire state, India's most populous, with around 210 million people.

In the Uttar Pradesh district of Ghaziabad, considered an eastern suburb of New Delhi, schools were ordered closed along with those in the capital on Monday and Tuesday, after which Uttar Pradesh officials said they would reassess the situation.

There are no official air pollution monitors set up in the Delhi suburban areas, but in both New Delhi and Lucknow, the levels of PM2.5—tiny particulate matter that can clog lungs—were at least above 400 micrograms per cubic meter on Monday. That's more than 40 times what's considered safe by the World Health Organization, and more than six times the limit set by Indian law. Some monitoring points were registering much higher levels.

Other Indian cities join Delhi in air pollution emergency
An Indian girls holds a banner during a protest against air pollution in New Delhi, India, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016. The Delhi government has ordered that all city schools be shut, construction activity halted and all roads be doused with water as crippling air pollution has engulfed the Indian capital. The city, one of the world's dirtiest, has seen the levels of PM2.5 soar to over 900 microgram per cubic meter on Saturday, more than 90 times the level considered safe by the World Health Organization and 15 times the Indian government's norms. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

New Delhi has also ordered the temporary closure of a nearby coal-burning power plant, as well as construction and demolition sites blamed for sending huge plumes of fine dust particles into the air. It also ordered that roads be doused with water to settle dust, and banned diesel-powered electricity generators for 10 days except at hospitals and cellphone towers.

On Tuesday, India's Supreme Court will hear a plea demanding that authorities do a better job of monitoring air quality and take more serious steps to cut pollution. The Centre for Science and Environment, a New Delhi-based research and lobbying organization, said government data shows that the smog that has covered the city for the last week is the worst in 17 years.


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Citation: Other Indian cities join Delhi in air pollution emergency (2016, November 7) retrieved 22 September 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2016-11-indian-cities-delhi-air-pollution.html
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