Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. Earth Science News .

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters

Delhi schools shut as toxic smog hits India and Pakistan
By Annie BANERJI, with Joris FIORITI in Islamabad
New Delhi (AFP) Nov 8, 2017

Delhi authorities ordered all schools to shut on Wednesday after choking smog descended on north India and Pakistan, with pollution levels in the city 40 times the World Health Organization's safe limit.

Levels of PM 2.5, the microscopic particles that are the most damaging to health, reached more than 1,000 micrograms per cubic metre in the Indian capital on Wednesday, according to US embassy measurements.

That is 40 times the World Health Organization safe maximum of 25 over a 24-hour period, and 100 times its upper limit for long-term exposure.

With Indian doctors warning of a public health emergency, the Delhi government ordered all schools in the city to close until Sunday -- citing the threat to the health of an estimated five million students in the capital.

Dr. Arvind Kumar said the smog had made the city "unfit for human habitation".

"The kind of toxin levels out there, you are affecting your brain, your heart, your lungs, every part of your body and it is causing irreparable damage," said Kumar, chairman of the Centre for Chest Surgery at the Sri Ganga Ram Hospital in Delhi.

Pollution regularly spikes in the region before the onset of winter as farmers set light to their fields to burn the post-harvest crop stubble -- a practice that remains widespread despite an official ban.

Cooler air also traps pollutants from local industry, coal-fired power plants and vehicles near the ground and prevents them dispersing into the atmosphere, a phenomenon known as inversion.

A report in the Lancet medical journal last month said pollution had claimed as many as 2.5 million lives in India in 2015, the highest in the world.

In Pakistan's second largest city Lahore, flights were cancelled, school times pushed back and hospitals overwhelmed with patients.

At Lahore's Mayo Hospital, elderly patients donning oxygen masks and lying on stretchers crammed the corridors awaiting treatment.

Their numbers have quadrupled in recent days, with patients flocking to the facility due to eye problems, respiratory infections and asthma, said Dr. Irshad Hussain.

- 'Borderless' problem -

No official air quality data was available but the informal PakAirQuality network, which publishes hourly air reports on Twitter, said the concentration of PM 2.5 in the city's air reached 757.

Pakistan's Punjab province of which Lahore is the capital pushed back opening times for schools to 9:00 am to shield children from the worst of the early-morning smog and shut down 180 factories.

Authorities in Delhi have closed power plants temporarily and experimented with taking some cars off the road since 2014, when it was named the world's most polluted major city in a WHO survey.

But Delhi's efforts have so far had little effect.

"We knew it was coming, yet nothing was done to avoid a repeat," said Prarthana Borah, India director of the charity Clean Air Asia.

"Unless air pollution is made a priority by the national government nothing will work. It is not about a particular geographic area. This is problem is borderless and affects us all."

With dense smog shrouding the roads, many pedestrians and bikers wore masks or covered their mouths with handkerchiefs and scarves.

But there were warnings of even worse to come if changing weather conditions brought more smoke from neighbouring farming areas into Delhi.


Firecrackers set off to celebrate last month's Diwali festival of lights in the city added to the toxic mix created by pollution from diesel engines, coal-fired power plants and industrial emissions.

The problem is further exacerbated by farmers who burn crop stubble after the harvest in northern India, a practice that remains commonplace despite an official ban.

On Tuesday the Environment Pollution Authority, which was set up by the Supreme Court to tackle the issue, ordered the closure of dust-spewing brick kilns and an increase in parking fees to encourage the use of public transport.

"In terms of air pollution, things are expected to get much worse in the coming days," said Bhure Lal, head of the Environment Pollution Authority (EPA), in a statement late Tuesday.

The EPA, set up by the Supreme Court to tackle the issue, ordered the closure of dust-spewing brick kilns and an increase in parking fees to encourage the use of public transport.

Schools shut amid health emergency as smog blankets India's capital
New Delhi (AFP) Nov 7, 2017
A public health emergency was declared as choking smog blanketed New Delhi on Tuesday, with authorities ordering the temporary closure of all primary schools in the world's most polluted capital city. The US embassy website said levels of the fine pollutants known as PM2.5 that are most harmful to health reached 703 - well over double the threshold of 300 that authorities class as hazardous ... read more

Related Links
Our Polluted World and Cleaning It Up

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly

paypal only

Comment using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Air force error allowed Texas shooter to buy guns despite conviction

In reversal, US tech firms back bill on human trafficking

Crime writer Ian Rankin predicts rise of 'kind and gentle' books

UN council weakens response to Myanmar after China objects

New insights into metamaterial magic

Tech increases microfluidic research data output 100-fold

Jellyfish-inspired electronic skin glows when it gets hurt

Novel technique reveals the intricate beauty of a cracked glass

Researchers use forensic science to track turtles

50 years of data from oxygen minimum lab helps predict the oceans' future

Tiny Fiji looks for global impact at Bonn climate talks

Penn engineers develop filters that use nanoparticles to prevent slime build-up

Intensifying winds could increase east Antarctica's contribution to sea level rise

Hot News from the Antarctic Underground

IceBridge Launches Two Sets of Antarctic Flights

Wanted: a medical doctor for a cold adventure

Extreme dining in Shanghai: French chef's twist on haute cuisine

First luxury Perigord truffle is cultivated in Britain

Black leaders who urged farmers to dump coca on run from Colombia gangs

Swapping where crops are grown could feed an extra 825 million people

Death toll from Vietnam typhoon rises to 61

Puerto Rico population to drop 14% after hurricane

Death toll from Vietnam typhoon rises to 69; 17th Atlantic storm takes shape

Magma held in 'cold storage' before giant volcano eruption

Deadly heat from climate change may hit slums hardest

Morocco architect fights concrete with tradition

US strikes IS in Somalia for first time

US mission in Niger not what US commanders say it was: reportw

Japanese scientists estimate the mutation rate from chimpanzee parents to their offspring

Bonobos help strangers without being asked

Newly discovered orangutan species is most endangered great ape

Study shows how memories ripple through the brain

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement