What is PM 25 and why is New Delhi, Lahore smog so bad?

Latest news

    Enveloped by a thick, choking shroud of toxic smog, New Delhi has declared a public health emergency.

    Schools closed on Wednesday, the second day of the fog crisis, and will remain shut until Sunday.

    Pollution trackers suggest the fog has reached the worst level so far this year, and is so high that breathing in air has been compared to being worse than smoking 50 cigarettes a day.

    In neighbouring Pakistan, too, flights were cancelled in Lahore, school times were delayed and hospitals overflowed.

    In New Delhi, smog levels of PM 2.5, the particles most damaging to health, have reached 40 times the World Health Organization’s safe limit.

    Vehicles drive through heavy smog in Delhi, India [Cathal McNaughton/Reuters]

    Arvind Kejriwal, the chief minister of Delhi, was quick to comment on the worsening pollution situation in the capital.

    “Every year this happens during this part of year. We have to find a solution to crop burning in adjoining states,” he said, referring to smoke caused by the burning of crops in the northern Indian states near Delhi.

    An estimated 35 million tonnes are set afire in Punjab and Haryana every year, which contributes to the haze and smog in New Delhi.

    What is happening?  

    We are approaching what is known as the “fog season”. This occurs as the northeasterly monsoon draws in cool, dry air from the Himalayas.

    Why?

    Because the air is cool. It is also denser than warm air and as such is stable.

    That stability means that the air pressure will tend to rise over the northern plains of India. High pressure acts like a lid on the atmosphere and traps any pollution in the atmosphere.

    Unfortunately, not only have we just had the fireworks from the recent Diwali festival, we also have a huge amount of stubble [crop] burning at this time of year.

    How long will it go on?

    Occasional bouts of rainfall will offer some relief.

    However, the season goes on throughout the winter, right into February or sometimes later when the lengthening days and warmer sunshine finally start to have an impact on the local climatic conditions.

    What are the effects?

    The World Health Organization (WHO) says on its website, on a page regarding India: “Air pollution is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (umbrella term for several progressive lung diseases including emphysema) and lung cancer, and increases the risks for acute respiratory infections and exacerbates asthma.”

    At least 1.5 million people died from the effects of air pollution in India in 2012, according to WHO data. 

    According to the Lancet medical journal, burning solid fuel for cooking released the PM 2.5 pollutant and killed 500,000 people in 2015.

    View the original article: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/11/pm-25-delhi-lahore-smog-bad-171108124435564.html

    The fog has also already started to cause road accidents, social media footage showed.

    Cows stand by the side of a road as a truck drives with lights on through smog in Greater Noida, near New Delhi, India [R S Iyer/Associated Press]

    In the same category are

    Government air raids pound rebel holdout in southwest Syria Many displaced Syrians are gathered along the border in makeshift camps, close to the area attacked Syrian government forces have unleashed an inte...
    Dutch FM under fire after making discriminatory remarks Politicians and refugee organisations have criticised Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok for claiming there are no peaceful multi-cultural societies.  B...
    Turkey’s emergency ends as bill seeks to keep some of its powers Lifting the state of emergency was one of President Erdogan's main election promises A state of emergency imposed in Turkey after a coup attempt tw...
    What are the limits of foreign lobbying in the UK? The British media watchdog Spinwatch says the United Arab Emirates (UAE) spent millions of dollars to influence political decision making. It also say...
    Hungary follows US in pulling out of UN migration pact Under Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Hungary has adopted increasingly hardline anti-migration policies Hungary's right-wing government is withdrawing...
    EU-Macedonia deal to deploy border guards to curb migration Avramopoulos said the deal will allow the European Agency to react 'swiftly to migratory challenges' The European Union says it has struck a deal w...

    Leave a comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.