Delhi May Close Schools Due to Toxic Smog
Air pollution at record levels is threatening the health of millions of kids
Beijing isn’t the only city dealing with major smog issues. Delhi, India’s capital city, also is suffering record levels of air pollution, and the government is weighing a proposal to close schools for two weeks.
The levels of toxic particles in the air are 15 to 30 times higher than the limit recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), The Guardian reports. A WHO survey released last year showed Delhi is the most polluted city in the world, with industry and traffic among the leading causes. Delhi’s air pollution is three times higher than Beijing's.
The chief minister of Delhi recently rolled out a plan to cut traffic in which cars with license plates ending in odd and even numbers could drive only on alternate days. The announcement came as India participated in the Paris climate talks, which some contentious positions, according to the New York Times:
“At the climate talks in Paris, India’s negotiators have staked out an adamant position: While India is vulnerable to global warming, raising a vast population out of poverty remains the national priority. The government plans to double use of domestic coal to more than a billion tons by 2019, and maintains that the legal obligation for action on climate change should fall on developed countries, which burned huge amounts of fossil fuels for decades.”
Children are on the receiving end of the worst health effects from the air pollution. Almost half of schoolchildren are growing up with irreversible lung damage, according to a study by the Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute. That study also showed that 27 percent of children complained of frequent headaches, and 15 percent complained of frequent eye irritation. A similar study showed respiratory illness in one-third of adults.
“Clean air is a human right,” environment minister Prakash Javadekar, one of the Indian negotiators in Paris, told The Guardian.