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Dangerous to Breathe: Air Quality Emergency for Delhi, India

9 Nov 2017, 12:15 pm

Hard to see, dangerous to breathe. This is the current situation in Delhi, India.


Delhi, India is experiencing extreme air pollution and very poor air quality, some of the worst its ever seen. As reported by The Guardian, the air quality is so poor there that breathing the air is being likened to smoking “50 cigarettes” a day. For a city that is already one of the world’s most polluted, this is truly an extreme situation, very hazardous to the health of people who are forced to breath it, and has led to doctors and medical professionals across the city to declare a public health emergency. Also the hash tag “DelhiSmog” has developed on social media.

Air pollutant levels are so high that they exceed the measuring capabilities of the air quality instruments used to measure them. The Air Quality Index, which is a daily measure of air quality, focusing on pollutants or particulate matter of 2.5 micrometers or smaller in the atmosphere, was recently calculated for Delhi and recorded a value of 999. According to United States’ standards, air quality becomes “hazardous” at a value of 300. The higher the number, the unhealthier the air.

This situation is currently being blamed on the recent weather. It has been relatively cold and calm across the region for the past few days, and where Delhi is located, in a valley with the Himalayas to the north and east, cold air can pool and become stagnant across the city, and leading to air pollution building in and around the city.

To learn more about the air quality in the United States and where you live, visit

For WeatherNation, I am Meteorologist Marcus Walter.



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