‘Unbearable Levels of Air Pollution in New Delhi, Declared a Public Health Emergency, Have Made “the Invisible Killer, Visible”

Human Wrongs Watch

Unbearable levels of air pollution in India’s capital of New Delhi, declared a public health emergency by the local government as of Monday [4 November 2019], have made “the invisible killer, visible”, a UN senior pollution expert has said. *

Image from UN News.


According to media reports, residents of the capital city are set to suffer record-levels of smog for at least a week, even with emergency measures in place to tackle the problem, with some flights delayed and diverted due to thick smog.

Valentin Foltescu, Senior Programme Management Officer for the UN Environment Programme in India, UNEP, told UN News that current levels of fine particulate matter, containing unsafe chemicals harmful to human health, are 40 times higher than the World Health Organization (WHO)-recommended level.

The major contributor is poor farming practices, Mr. Foltsecu explained, with states adjacent to the capital region practicing widespread stubble burning in open fields. In addition, waste mismanagement and heavy traffic are also raising toxicity levels.


WHO has outlined the detrimental impact of particulate matter pollution, or PM2.5 on humans; stunting children’s brains, and triggering heart disease, stroke, pulmonary disease and lung cancers, with an estimated 4.2 million premature deaths globally linked to ambient air pollution.

UNEP is working with various sectors in a bid to help reduce the toxic smog in New Delhi and beyond, including Government-led agricultural initiatives, and projects on the ground to eliminate harmful open burning practices.


2019 Human Wrongs Watch

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