Delhi smog: Air quality deteriorates to severe again

WHO Global Platform on Air Quality and Health data show that air pollution in New Delhi is 14.3 times over the safe limit set by the WHO.

Myupchar November 12, 2019 14:24:23 IST
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Delhi smog: Air quality deteriorates to severe again
  • The world over, 80% of cities have air pollution exceeding the "safe" limit set by the WHO

  • So far, only two Indian cities - Bengaluru and Chilamathur Mandal in Andhra Pradesh - have signed on to the BreatheLife campaign

  • Earlier this month, India's National Disaster Management Authority had advised people to avoid strenuous activities and going out - especially in the morning

Delhi’s air quality turned “severe” again on Tuesday, just days after a United Nations official in New Delhi said that air pollution in the capital was a “visible killer”. The reason: hazy skies as far as the eye can see.

Valentin Foltescu, the senior programme management officer for the UN Environment Programme in India told UN News: “What we have in northern India right now, in the Indo-Gangetic plain, we have a situation where we have a visible killer. It's that bad.”

Delhi smog Air quality deteriorates to severe again

Representational image. Image source: Getty Images.

Capital concern

WHO Global Platform on Air Quality and Health data show that air pollution in New Delhi is 14.3 times over the safe limit set by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Compare this with other Asian capitals. In Beijing, where the government cracked down on air pollution ahead of the 2008 Olympics in a big way, air pollution is 7.3 times over the safe limit. Islamabad is 6.6 times over the safe limit. Dhaka, 5.7 times over. Even Kathmandu in the hills is over - by a factor of 4.9x. Colombo, by the sea, is 3.6 times over the safe limit.

To be sure, air pollution is increasingly getting worse in large swathes of the world. The world over, 80% of cities have air pollution exceeding the “safe” limit set by the WHO. 

In response, international agencies are putting their heads together to find effective ways to combat air pollution. Case in point: In 2016, WHO, UN Environment, the Climate & Clean Air Coalition and The World Bank, launched the BreatheLife campaign to motivate individuals, cities and governments to reduce air pollution across the world by 2030.

So far, only two Indian cities - Bengaluru and Chilamathur Mandal in Andhra Pradesh - have signed on to the BreatheLife campaign.

Health effects of pollution

Teary eyes, choked throats, sneezes and breathlessness are only some of the temporary side-effects of smog. Of course, smog can cause allergies and respiratory problems like asthma and reduced lung function. But that’s not all! Air pollution can increase cancer incidences as well. Children and outdoor workers are the worst affected. According to one estimate, 4.4 million children are already affected by irreversible lung damage.

Air pollution claims more than seven million lives each year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). 

Guidelines and recommendations

Delhi is facing a health emergency. The ongoing “odd-even” scheme in Delhi (cars with odd numbers are allowed to ply on odd number dates and even on even, with a few exceptions) is a drop in the ocean of fighting air pollution.

Earlier this month, India’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) had advised people to avoid strenuous activities and going out - especially in the morning. Here are some of the NDMA’s do’s and don’ts how to keep yourself and your loved ones as safe as possible during this time:

  • Stay off the main highways where traffic is likely to build up. Take the smaller in-roads as much as possible.
  • Don’t go out unless you have to. Especially in the mornings.
  • Don’t workout outdoors during the worst days.
  • Eat healthily: make sure to get a lot of vitamin C and magnesium from your diet.
  • Keep a mask handy.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health. For more information, please read our article on Lung Cancer: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment.

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