World’s Worst Air Pollution Spikes as Indians Burst Firecrackers
Air pollution levels skyrocketed in New Delhi and left India’s capital shrouded in toxic smog as millions of Indians set off firecrackers on Wednesday evening for Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights.
The air quality index, or AQI, hit 980 at 4:30 a.m. Thursday, according to website AirVisual, which monitors air pollution around the world. The levels surged as people violated an order of the Supreme Court and burst firecrackers before and after a two-hour window set for the purpose. Readings below 50 are considered safe, while anything above 300 is considered hazardous. The air quality in the morning was just about as bad as it was in 2017 a day after Diwali, when levels exceeded 1,000, roughly ten times worse than the air pollution in Beijing. The levels on Thursday afternoon came down from their peak, with the gauge reading a “very unhealthy” 244 as of 2:30 p.m. The smog last year led the capital’s chief minister to declare his city had become a “gas chamber.” Toxic air is estimated to kill more than 1 million Indians each year, according to the nonprofit Health Effects Institute. Read More: World’s Fastest Growing Economy Has the World’s Most Toxic Air New Delhi was ranked the most polluted city in the world on Thursday, according to AirVisual’s global rankings. Lahore in Pakistan was at second place with AQI at 273 as of 8 a.m. local time. By comparison, New York had readings of just 29 as of 10 p.m. on Wednesday local time. With different air quality monitors showing varied readings across the capital, it was still clear that New Delhi’s air was the worst in the world. Levels of dangerous PM 2.5 -- the fine, inhalable particles that lodge deep in the lungs, where they can enter the bloodstream -- were pushing close to 1,400 in some parts of the Indian capital early on Thursday morning, according to a website run by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee, a government agency.