Photo credit: Dave Morris

Air pollution levels in Delhi have been off the charts since Dipavali. It’s that way for several weeks every winter, but this is the worst on record. Avoid Delhi unless you have a flight that gives you no choice.

If you have to go to Delhi, be sure you have good, pollution masks rated N95 or higher that filter out PM 2.5, which refers to the particulate you really don’t want to breathe. Anything else really won’t do much of anything. Those plain cloth masks many people wear are practically useless in this scenario.

For some people, breathing that level of pollution for even a single day is enough to make them sick for weeks. It’s not worth it.

The New Delhi US Embassy publishes a Real-time Air Quality Index (AQI) here.

Rain is predicted soon, and that will help, but don’t forget the mask, in any case. Actually, bring one no matter when you are going to Delhi.

What is making the winter pollution dangerously bad is not just the usual pollution from vehicles in the city, but farmers burning off their fields in preparation for planting the next crop. The politicians won’t do anything to ban the burning although they know they should because they are afraid of angering the farmers and losing their votes. It’s cheaper to burn than to clear the fields by hand. Just one more instance where money wins out over the environment and health and common sense.

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