Nov 6, 2023
Air pollution levels in Delhi, India, have reached such extreme levels this week that the city has closed schools. It has also announced bans on activities that create smog. They include driving and construction work.
Readings on the air quality index (AQI) reached 500 in Delhi on Friday. The AQI is a tool which measures the dangers of breathing polluted air. 500 is the scale’s maximum, or worst, possible score.
The weekend saw a dropoff in traffic in Delhi. But the city’s AQI numbers remained in the upper 400s. And there was little sign of relief. The World Health Organization says a 100 on the AQI is enough to begin irritating lungs and causing issues for those with breathing problems. Anything above 400 is highly dangerous. This is even the case for healthy adults.
“The number of patients with breathing problems has increased,” Dr. Nikhil Modi of Delhi’s Apollo Hospital told The Guardian. “People of all ages are affected by this. It is time for us to wear masks and go out only when needed.” Modi also stated that more people are having coughs, colds, and irritated eyes.
Elementary and middle schools in Delhi are closed until at least November 10. And many high schools have moved to remote learning. City officials announced a 20,000-rupee ($240) fine for anyone driving an older model car or one that spews high emissions. They also banned all non-essential demolition and construction work.
Delhi routinely ranks as one of the most polluted cities in the world. This occurs especially in early November. Wheat farmers in nearby provinces burn off the chaff from their fields. It sends clouds of smog into the city. Colder temperatures ensure the smog settles for weeks.
Reflect: How would you rate the air quality in your neighborhood? How do you think a city or community can help reduce air pollution and improve air quality for its residents?
How's Your Atmosphere?
In this lesson, students discuss what they know about air quality, play a game to facilitate understanding of air quality, and create an action plan to inspire solutions in their community.
World's Air Pollution: Real-time Air Quality Index
This interactive world map shows the real-time air-quality index in thousands of locations.
Introduction to Air Quality (Air Quality #1)
This lesson introduces students to air quality.