Saturday, November 4

Killer Smog in India's Capital City. Delhi residents advised to stay indoors. UPDATED 11/5 - 4:20pm EDT

Stop the Presses
The same killer smog has also invaded Pakistan's Punjab region, and from reports today it looks as if the underlying condition in both affected regions is sandstorms in the Middle East, particularly from deserts in Syria, Iraq and Iran. The sand mixes with the annual winter fog that settles in the affected south Asian regions and with a host of air pollutants in those regions to create the toxic smog that is currently wreaking havoc in Pakistan's Punjab and India's capital city.

But is this actually smog, which is generally thought of as fuel-emissions based?  It seems to have more in common with China's notorious Yellow Dust sandstorms -- fine sand mixed with dust -- that annually blow from the Gobi Desert, mix with China's air pollutants (vehicle, factory, etc.) then drifts into several other nearby countries (Japan, South Korea, etc.) and eventually, in more dispersed form, across the Pacific Ocean to land in America's Pacific Northwest.

More on this issue later.  


Morning smog in New Delhi DURING two-week experiment to reduce auto traffic 

Tsering Topgyal/The Associated Press

From the photo obviously motor vehicles aren't the only source of what has become a deadly level of pollution in India's capital, despite the city's notoriously congested roads. The Sputnik report below cites stubble burning and residue from burning construction materials as culprits in addition to high emissions from the city's vehicle-choked streets. 

Delhi's government needs to act YESTERDAY to halt corruption in the building trades and whatever else is the worst offender in the toxic air pollution. YESTERDAY, hear? 

That means IMMEDIATELY. 

From my recollections of Indian cities I'm wondering if another factor is the large number of dung-fuel fires that are burned outside on city outskirts during the predawn hours; this isn't necessarily 'homeless' people doing the burning; it's just the ways things have been done since anyone can remember. A lot of living is done outdoors in India -- the village life, which was then transferred to city outskirts.

I loved the smell of the dung fires; to this day I associate it, along with the smell of jasmine flowers, with India. But as the cities and their vehicular traffic grew, and as huge numbers of Indians migrated to the cities from villages, and with everything else including the burning of construction materials, these dung fires might be a significant contribution to Delhi's air pollution, at least in the winter months. But that's when people most need the warmth from morning campfires  -- and how else are they going to boil water for their morning tea? 

So, depending on how much this way of life has continued, it could be a big and perhaps insoluble problem, at least for the near term. But something has to be done, right away, to reduce the air pollution in Delhi. No question.  

People Advised to Stay Indoors as Pollution Levels Skyrocket in Indian Capital

The air quality Index of Delhi is currently 311, indicating that people are inhaling dangerously toxic air. The onset of winter has worsened the situation as forecasters warn of foggy pollution-filled mornings over the next several days, prompting doctors to issue a rare health warning.

[Pundita note: the warning is probably "rare" only because of political pressure on India's medical profession not to harp on the level of city air pollution, which was high even before the current crisis in Delhi.] 
New Delhi (Sputnik) — With the approaching foggy weather accompanying the arrival of winter in India, the nation's capital of Delhi is bracing itself for pollution-filled mornings with doctors appealing to people to stay inside their homes.
According to a statement issued by the Indian meteorological department (IMD), shallow fog and mist will engulf Delhi almost every morning over the next few weeks and commuters will be subjected to long traffic snarls due to low visibility.

“While high moisture content increases the air’s capacity to hold on to pollutants, the low wind speed is failing to disperse the pollutants that are trapped in the city’s air," D Saha, head of the air quality laboratory at Central Pollution Control Board, said in a news release.

Several factors such as a drop in night temperatures, high moisture content in the air and low wind speed are helping in the formation of fog and mist almost every morning, according to the IMD.
SAFAR, which maintains data by the union ministry of earth sciences, has forecast levels of PM2.5 and PM10 – the primary pollutants in Delhi air over the next few days.
Organizers of the prestigious ‘Delhi Half Marathon’ annually held at this time of the year, have been asked by the Indian Medical Association (IMA) — the apex medical body of the country — to consider postponing it. The marathon is scheduled for November 19.
Meanwhile, an association of doctors with top hospitals in Delhi have issued an advisory suggesting people, especially elders to avoid morning walks.
"Exercising is vital for health but not when we are breathing poison," said the health advisory issued as part of a 'my right to breathe' campaign initiated by doctors.

Various factors that contribute to the ever-deteriorating air quality in Delhi include vehicular emissions, stubble burning, and the residue derived from burning construction materials, according to Skymet Weather, a private weather agency.

READ MORE: Domestic Pollution Problems Force China to Stay Strong on Climate Change


See also: Air Pollution Cuts Solar Power Generation By 25% in India, China; June 30, 2107, Sputnik


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