Category: World / February 1, 2013 3:18 PM EST
A toxic smog cloud encased India's capital on Friday (February 1), shooting air pollution levels even higher than those recorded in Beijing, which have been sky high in recent weeks.
According to environmental scientists, New Delhi has been witnessing pollution levels considered hazardous against the World Health Organization’s recommended daily level of no more than 20.
The smog has directly affected the city’s transportation. Most flights coming in and out of New Delhi were delayed, several trains were rescheduled, and visibility on the roads was so poor, vehicles could be seen crawling slowly through the street with their headlights on.
Analysts worry the smog could cause serious respiratory damage if the government does not take immediate action.
"If you look at the pollution levels that are getting recorded by the automatic monitors in the city, it shows very clearly that the levels are several times higher than the standards. PM (particulate matter) 2.5 level, I am told, has recorded nearly more than 200, up to 300 microgram per cubic meter and these are extremely tiny particles that go very deep inside your lung," environmental said scientist at the Centre for Science and Research, Anumita Roy Choudhary.
The World Health Organization warns that Indians are at a high risk of respiratory ailments, heard disease, and lung cancer due to the fact that Delhi’s air has almost 10 times the recommended level of PM10 particulate matter, or particles small enough to penetrate the deepest part of the lungs.
"Meteorological factors are going to play up all the time but how severe the smog is going to be will depend entirely on the level of pollution that you are generating in the city and that is becoming really impossible because if you look at the pollution sources in Delhi, what is increasing very rapidly are the vehicles but you do have other sources, there are power plants, there is industry, there are open burning problems," she said.
New Delhi sees nearly 1600 new vehicles on the road every day, which compounds the city’s environmental problems.
Earlier this week Beijing’s pollution levels shot to a record 30-45 times the recommended safety zone, prompting city officials to ground flights, force people indoors, and pull cars off the road.
Video Source: Reuters