New Delhi was wrapped in a thick layer of toxic haze as air quality continued to remain in the “severe category”. The Indian capital, along with Kolkata and Mumbai, is among the world’s most polluted cities today, according to data by Swiss Group IQAir.
New Delhi again topped the real-time list with an AQI of 483 at 7.30 am today, followed by Lahore at 371. Kolkata and Mumbai were also among the 5 worst-hit cities by air pollution with an AQI of 206 and 162 respectively.
World’s Most Polluted Cities Today
Officials say a seasonal combination of low temperatures, a lack of wind, and stubble burning in neighbouring states had caused a spike in air pollutants.
Many of New Delhi’s 20 million residents complained of irritation in the eyes and itchy throats with the air turning a dense grey as the AQI hovered over 550 in some monitoring stations.
An AQI of 0-50 is considered good while anything between 400-500 affects healthy people and is a danger to those with existing diseases.
“In my last 24 hours duty, I saw babies coughing, children coming with distress and rapid breathing,” Ahmed Khan, a Delhi-based doctor, said on social media platform X.
The concentration of fine particulate matter, known as PM2.5, was 523 mg per cubic meter, 104.6 times higher than the permissible World Health Organization guidelines. Long-term exposure to these particles, which are about 30 times thinner than human hair and can penetrate the bloodstream through the lungs, has been linked to chronic heart and respiratory conditions.
A crisis plan has already been activated in the national capital, which includes halting construction works, encouraging the use of public transport, and working from home when possible.
India is hosting the Cricket World Cup and organisers have banned fireworks at matches in Mumbai and Delhi to avoid compounding hazardous air pollution levels.
Bangladesh is scheduled to play Sri Lanka in Delhi on Monday but cancelled a scheduled Friday training session because of the haze, with little likelihood of the air clearing for their match.