In the News
November 27, 2023
November 27, 2023
Smog in New Delhi is so bad that one study suggests residents lose eight years of life from inhaling it. Politicians are trading blame.
JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:
India has some of the world’s worst air pollution, and nowhere is that felt more keenly than in the capital, New Delhi. There, the air is so toxic that one recent study estimated residents are losing years of life just by breathing it in. NPR’s Diaa Hadid reports.
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DIAA HADID, BYLINE: A vendor hawks flutes near the India Gate in the center of New Delhi. It’s a giant arch that towers over a sweeping pedestrian boulevard. It’s normally crowded, but the day we go in November, visitors are sparse. And from a dozen feet away, the India Gate is just an outline in the haze of gray, smudgy smog. According to my air quality app, the pollution is so bad, people should stay indoors. It’s not an option for vendor Gajender Kohli. He blows cascades of bubbles, trying to lure kids to buy his bubble-blowing kits.
GAJENDER KOHLI: (Non-English language spoken).
HADID: He says the air makes him sick. It makes the kids sick, too.
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HADID: A few miles away at the Safdarjung Hospital, we meet some of those children. Razia Begum waits for a doctor to see her three children. They’ve all got chesty coughs.
RAZIA BEGUM: (Non-English language spoken).
HADID: She says it could be the cold or the pollution.
BEGUM: (Non-English language spoken).
HADID: But she says she’s sure if the air was cleaner, her kids wouldn’t get so sick. For now, the pollution keeps her running to the hospitals. And the immediate impact on children is just one way air pollution is harmful. Christa Hasenkopf is from the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago. She says the worst impacts are from the tiny particles in smog.
CHRISTA HASENKOPF: You breathe them in. They go into not just your lungs, but they can go into your bloodstream and all over your body and act as a toxin. So it causes strokes and heart attacks. It can cause even things like cognitive decline and certainly issues with fertility.