Friday, December 16, 2011

Traveler's Alert: New Delhi's Air Quality a Risk for Those with Respiratory Ailments

Citywide pollution sensors routinely register levels of small airborne particles at two or sometimes three times its own sanctioned level for residential areas, putting New Delhi up with Beijing, Cairo and Mexico City at the top of indexes listing the world's most-polluted capitals.

Consequently, our readers with respiratory afflictions and pulmonary disease are urged to consult with their physicians before traveling to the Indian capital.

COMMENT: Unfortunately, India's mushrooming middle class adds 1,200 cars a day to the six million on roads already snarled with incessantly honking traffic. Generous diesel subsidies promote the use of diesel-powered SUVs that belch some of the highest levels of carcinogenic particles, thanks to their reliance on one of the dirtiest-burning fuels and low Indian emissions standards.

Diesel-generated vehicles, which in 2000 accounted for 4% of India's market, now make up 40% of new car sales, and are soon expected to hit 50%.

In the meantime, at least 3,000 Delhi residents will die each year from pollution-related causes, out of the city's 100,000 annual deaths, according to a recent study by The Energy Resources Institute in New Delhi and the U.S.-based Health Effects Institute. Other studies have put the number of pollution-related deaths at 10,000 a year or higher. Thousands more will develop asthma, chronic bronchitis or other respiratory ailments.

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