Pollution: ‘Toxic’ smog making life miserable for Delhi residents

The air pollution in the region surrounding the capital of India has reached a level nine times that recommended by the World Health Organization – and some residents describe it as a gas chamber-like “toxic” fog.
A recent Fox News article describes the “health emergency,” citing one official who describes the air in the region around New Delhi, India, as a “gas chamber.” The same article reports that five million masks were distributed among the city’s schools last week when air quality deteriorated to “severe” levels.

Ajay Mohanty* resides in Dwarka, a sub-city in the South West Delhi district of National Capital Territory of Delhi. Mohanty describes Dwarka as a residential enclave and “one of the best” in Delhi to live. However, the massive metropolitan area in the country’s north is currently riddled by an “alarming” level of smog, he tells OneNewsNow.

On the heels of the Hindu festival Deepavali (Diwali) in late October, Mohanty says “the air quality in Dwarka, particularly, and the whole Capital region has been categorized as hazardous.” He describes the situation, stating “the entire city is covered by a thick smog and visibility is poor.”

A rain shower typically helps the situation, but it appears a bit of recent rainfall has actually made the situation worse, according to Mohanty. “My eyes are burning, the air feels heavy to breathe, and there is a general feeling of uneasiness all around,” he adds.

Members of his family and close friends have suffered from respiratory problems since 2016. One such person, Deeti Ray* – also a Delhi resident – agrees. She tells OneNewsNow that “friends and neighbors often share similar health issues during this time of the year.” According to Ray, symptoms include “a burning sensation in eyes, wheezing, coughing and other allergic reactions.”

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Mohanty and Ray are particularly concerned about the harmful impact to younger people or school-age children. They are thankful schools have been closed for a few days, but remain unsure on how to effectively deal with the circumstance.

“It seems everybody is clueless on what to do,” says Ray, “but many are trying different methods such as wearing face masks – which may be ineffective – or buying expensive air purifiers for households to stay safe and survive this mess.”

Ray points out “some sections of the community, like doctors and face mask or air-purifying companies, have been very busy in recent weeks.” Unfortunately, Ray herself is still suffering, awaiting an improvement in the conditions. Yet, the air quality monitoring station at Dwarka currently labels the situation as “alarming.”

“[This] is a temporary phenomenon, of course, but it [seems] like an annual ritual now,” Mohanty shares. He also expects it to get worse as winter sets in. “In the last few years, the level of pollution has been reaching alarming heights starting late October and November.”

The Delhi resident believes there may be many causes, including the burning of farmland in neighboring states, the incredible number of firecracker explosions during the festivals of Diwali and Dushhera, and the pollution emitted from vehicles. Each of these combined, he contends, has taken the situation from “bad to worse” and a Delhi winter may not bring much relief.

Ray suggests a few solutions, one of them being that those who are celebrating Hindu festivals with countless quantities of firecrackers must take some personal responsibility. Other solutions, she says, could include weather modification techniques like artificial rain, a shift to public transport, or controlled farmland burning.

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“Perhaps the problem lies elsewhere, and perhaps any control is beyond our reach,” she concludes.

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