The Economist - Air pollution in India
MID-AFTERNOON in Delhi, and a red blob looms in the haze. The sun barely illuminates the city. A yellow-green smog hangs low. Even indoors, fuzzy halos of dust and smoke surround lamps. Those foolish enough to be out jogging, or compelled to stand at junctions directing traffic, complain of shortness of breath, migraines, clogged lungs. Newspapers are crammed with articles about asthma, wheezing children at clinics, an epidemic of grumpiness and gloom, the frail and elderly falling victim to an annual—and worsening—scourge: Delhi’s winter pea-soupers.
By one estimate the Delhi smog kills 10,500 people a year: smog can trigger heart or asthma attacks, particulate matter causes cancer. Like just about every big Asian city that has grown fast, with only a passing concern for environmental standards, its air is wretched. Official data prove it so. India’s minister for the environment, Jayanthi Natarajan, said so explicitly before parliament in March, explaining that India sets national standards for various nasty pollutants, and monitors for them in 216 towns and cities.
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