Heavy smog engulfed India’s capital New Delhi on Tuesday as air pollution worsened with the onset of winter, pushing concentrations of fine particles in the air three times above acceptable limits.
The world’s most polluted capital struggles to breathe each winter as cold temperatures and calm winds trap pollutants closer to the ground.
“As the minimum temperature drops, the gradual onset of early morning fog is likely to increase, leading to deterioration in the air quality index (AQI),” said the Research and Research System on air quality and weather (SAFAR) from the federal government in a daily bulletin
The AQI in parts of the city soared above 400 on Tuesday, which is categorized as “severe” for air pollution, according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
The level of fine particulate matter measuring 2.5 micrograms or PM2.5 was 180 micrograms per cubic meter of air at 10 a.m. in the National Capital Region of Delhi, according to CPCB data, three times above the 24-hour acceptable limit of 60 micrograms per cubic meter of air.
Authorities have taken several steps over the years to improve the city’s air quality, including switching Delhi’s public transport fleet to cleaner fuel, spraying water from the tops of towers and onto roads and controlling the burning of firewood and garbage in cold weather.
But experts said these measures needed to be applied in northern India and the towns and villages around New Delhi that form the wider National Capital Region, which also suffer from poor air quality. air, to effectively control pollution.