In the News
December 6, 2023
December 6, 2023
A man blows cascades of bubbles near the India Gate in New Delhi, hoping to lure children, or at least their parents, to buy his bubble blowing kits. Visitors usually flock to see the giant arch, a war memorial, that towers over a sweeping pedestrian boulevard in the city center.
But on a recent November day, visitors are thin. There’s not much to see: The India Gate is a hazy outline in gray, smudgy smog. Bubble blower Gajender Kohli shakes his head. The bad air is bad for business, he says, and it makes him feel rotten. “It makes me sick. It makes the kids sick,” he says.
Visitor Prateek Dabhi says he can’t wait to leave the city. He’s on a leg-stretch stopover during a days-long bus trip to the Himalayas. “We’re already losing years of our life,” he says, because of pollution in his hometown in southeast India. “If we lived in this pollution, we’d lose even more.”
Air pollution is likely costing residents of New Delhi an average of about 12 years of life compared with their expected lifespan if the region met World Health Organization air quality standards, according to a September report by the Air Quality Life Index at the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago…
…Activists say it’s harder to mobilize people to pressure the government to do more because the most severe harm from air pollution isn’t immediately noticeable. Some of the worst impacts come from the tiny particles in smog, known as PM2.5, about 30 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair.
When you breathe them in, “they can go into your bloodstream and all over your body and act as a toxin,” says Christa Hasenkopf of the Energy Policy Institute. “It causes strokes and heart attacks. It can cause even things like cognitive decline and certainly issues with fertility,” Hasenkopf says. “It’s hard to viscerally understand and connect that someone’s illness is caused by, or exacerbated by, pollution. I think that’s made it very, very difficult to develop policy and enforce policies to get rid of it.”