The Guardian’s Delhi correspondent, Jason Burke, explains how he and his family cope in Delhi’s toxic air environment.
“It is a very ordinary weekday morning. I am taking my children to school, a 10-minute journey if the traffic is good, double that if it is not. A very normal checklist: sports kit, spare jumper and, of course, face mask.
It is eight o’clock, the worst time of the day for pollution. Through the windows of the car – pooled with a neighbour – the smog is a thick yellow. The outlines of buildings, even trees, only a hundred or so metres away are blurred and vague. I check the air monitor readings on my phone. The levels of PM2.5, the tiny particulates that embed in lungs and can reach the bloodstream, are more than 300 micrograms per cubic metre. This is 12 times the European Union legal maximum. The level has previously topped 500.
“Yucky pollution,” says my three-year-old daughter, whose teachers will keep her inside all day. Her parents will try to keep her and her brother, who has developed mild asthma in the last year, inside as much of the weekend as is possible. And this is in one of the most verdant, spacious parts of the city. Elsewhere levels are regularly twice, even three times, as high. These are levels that would be seen as a national public health emergency in Europe. Not here…”
The Guardian. Read it on delhiair.org.