STORY: New Delhi woke up to a thick blanket of toxic smog hanging over the city on Monday (December 04) morning, pushing pollution levels back to a ‘hazardous’ level after a respite of few days.
A U.S. embassy measure showed levels of poisonous airborne particles, known as PM 2.5, had reached 448 on Monday morning, on a scale where the maximum reading in 500 – almost nine times the upper limit of “good” quality air at 50.
A major source of the smog at this time of year across northern India, including New Delhi, is farmers burning the stubble of the previous crop to prepare for new plantings. In addition to crop burning – a combination of industrial smog, vehicle exhaust and dust envelop the region every year as winter approaches and wind speeds drop.
On Sunday (December 03) smog interrupted the third and final Test match between India and Sri Lanka as the thick haze brought down visibility levels after lunch session. The majority of the Sri Lankan players returned from the second day’s lunch break wearing facemasks as the seasonal haze affecting the region thickened over the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium.
New Delhi declared a pollution emergency last month, with residents gasping for breath amid a thick cloud of smog. Doctors declared the national capital “unfit for human habitation” as the number of patients coming to hospitals with respiratory ailments surged.
At least 2.5 million people in India died early because of pollution in 2015, more than any other country in the world, according to a study by the Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health.