By Kara Headley
Living in Lansing, Michigan, something we rarely think about is the quality of our air. Waking up in the morning, stepping outside, and letting the crisp morning air fill your lungs is, believe it or not, a luxury. In the world we have created, there are some countries where it is not safe to breathe. Due to copious amounts of air pollution, people in these countries face respiratory disease which can lead to death. One of the places affected most heavily is New Delhi, India.
The air pollution in New Delhi creates a thick smog that you can hardly see through. For reference, according to the Real Time Air Quality Index, on November 16th, the AQI for Lansing was 22 micrograms per cubic meter, which, according to the World Health Organization, is good and safe. In New Delhi, this November, the AQI reached 999 micrograms per cubic meter, which is the highest our instruments can currently measure. Air in this state is unbelievably unsafe to breathe. The government closed schools, banned trucks from entering the city, and suspended all civil construction projects in order to keep people safe and try to get the AQI down.
There is no one cause of this air pollution; it is a combination of many unsafe practices in India. Factors that contribute to this pollution include crop burning, industrial emissions, vehicle exhaust, road dust, and burning biomass. The number of cars on the road continues to rise due to the lack of public transportation. In addition, New Delhi is at a geographical disadvantage. The city is landlocked and sits in a natural bowl, and without breeze coming from water, this pollution does not have anywhere to go.
Few actions have been taken by the government to fix this problem.The government has shut down some power plants and brick kilns, banned private electricity generators, and banned the sale of firecrackers. Still, there is much work to be done to ensure a breathable future for the citizens of New Delhi.