Thursday, October 30, 2014

US Embassy Issues Air Quality Warning in Delhi

If you have children in New Delhi, you might not want to let them play outside today. The U.S. Embassy in the Indian capital said air quality – as measured at a monitoring station in the embassy compound – had reached “very unhealthy” levels on Wednesday morning. 

Article from the Wall Street Journal

On Wednesday at 10 a.m., the embassy said its air-quality index was 255 – a measure based on the amount of fine particulate, or PM 2.5, in the air. Such small particulates can enter the lungs and blood stream. They have been linked to severe health problems such as lung cancer. The U.S. Embassy’s website said that an air-quality index reading between 201 and 300 can cause “significant aggravation of heart or lung disease” and a “significant increase in respiratory effects in general population.” “Older adults and children should avoid all physical activity outdoors,” it said. “Everyone else should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion.”

The message though hadn’t got through to the American Embassy School in Delhi on Wednesday morning. Kailash Sharma, a staff member at the school, which is located across the road from the embassy, said by telephone that “kids were playing outside.”

The U.S. embassy in Beijing, China, also monitors air pollution. 

Delhi’s air quality often deteriorates in winter, particularly in the days after the festival of Diwali when residue from fireworks displays adds to pollution levels.  India’s Ministry of Earth Sciences on Wednesday said its air-quality index was 121, a level described as “poor.” But it could be worse: some of the smoggiest days in New Delhi in December 2013 had air-quality index levels of 400, which are considered hazardous to health. India ranks last among the world’s 20 biggest economies in terms of air pollution levels, and along with China, has the highest average exposure to PM 2.5 in the world, according to a report published in January by the scientists at Yale and Columbia universities in the U.S. 

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