Asia Minute: More Concerns About New Delhi’s Air

Nov 4, 2015

Dense smog blankets Connaught Place, Delhi.
Credit Wikipedia Commons

The return of the trade winds should help dissipate the recent vog lingering over some of the islands. When it comes to air pollution and Asia - most people immediately think of Beijing and other major cities in China.  That’s understandable, but the worst air in the world is actually elsewhere in Asia—and it’s raising a new level of concern.  HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

The World Health Organization says 13 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world are in India.  The worst is New Delhi.  And residents are increasingly concerned.  This week, the Times of India released a survey of nearly 6,000 residents of its capital city.  89% say the city is becoming “unlivable” because of the air.

One measure of air pollution is fine particulate matter - tiny particles in the air that are less than two and a half microns in width - about thirty times smaller than a human hair.  The measure of PM 2.5 is an international standard.  On average, New Delhi’s air has six times the recommended maximum of the World Health Organization - twelve times the maximum allowed in the United States.

Earlier this year, a national cancer institute released the results of a study that tracked the health of New Delhi school children for three years.  The Indian Express reports the study found that nearly half of those children will grow up with irreversible lung damage.  India already has the highest death rate in the world from respiratory disease - and the government reports cases of acute respiratory infection have increased by 30% in the past five years.