New Delhi | The Indian capital was covered in a thick toxic fog on Friday and the level of pollution was measured as “severe” by the authorities, hours after declarations by Donald Trump that India looked “disgusting”.
Every year at the start of the winter season, the air in New Delhi turns into a toxic mixture of fumes from surrounding agricultural fires, exhaust gases and industrial emissions, trapped above the city by warmer temperatures. cool and light winds.
On Friday, the US Embassy in New Delhi recorded a daily concentration of fine particles PM2.5 of 269 micrograms per cubic meter of air.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends not to exceed a daily average PM2.5 concentration of 25. By comparison, late Friday morning in central Paris, the rate was 40. It can reach 150 in the Los Angeles area.
About one-thirtieth the diameter of a human hair, these particles can seep into the bloodstream through the lungs. Long-term exposure to PM2.5 increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and lung cancer.
The air quality index of 36 official Delhi monitoring sites, measuring PM2.5 and PM10 (with a diameter of less than 10 microns) was between 282 and 446, at a “severe” level, according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). The “good” level is 0 to 50.
“A further deterioration (of air quality) is expected for two days,” said the government body SAFAR referring to “a significant increase in agricultural burns” in the neighboring states of Haryana and Punjab which contributes to 17% at PM2.5 level in Delhi.
The burns began earlier this year as farmers, fearing labor shortages due to the pandemic, advanced sowing and harvesting, officials said.
On Thursday evening, during his debate with Joe Biden, his Democratic opponent for the November 3 presidential election, US President Donald Trump said, “Look how disgusting it is in China. Look at Russia, look at India. It’s disgusting. The air is disgusting “.
Mr. Trump had withdrawn his country from the Paris climate agreement, believing it to be unfairly treated compared to other polluting countries.
Scientists warn of the particular risks of pollution this year, with the pandemic, for the 20 million inhabitants of New Delhi.
It “increases the risk of non-communicable diseases, the very ones that make people more likely to be seriously affected or to die from Covid-19,” epidemiologist Sumi Mehta of the international organization Vital told AFP. Strategies.
And the health care system could be under increased strain. “There are serious concerns that the vulnerability to Covid-19 will increase further during the winter, with higher air pollution levels worsening respiratory illnesses anyway and driving up hospitalizations,” he said. ‘AFP Anumita Roy Chowdhury of the Center for Science and Environment in Delhi.