General view of partment blocks during heavy smog in Delhi, India, 10 November 2017. Photo: Cathal McNaughton / REUTERS

By Rupam Jain, with additional reporting by Manoj Kumar, Mayank Bhardwaj; Editing by Tom Lasseter and Nick Macfie
10 November 2017

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India plans to spray water over its capital, New Delhi, to combat toxic smog that has triggered a pollution emergency, officials said on Friday, with conditions expected to worsen over the weekend.

Illegal crop burning in farm states surrounding New Delhi, vehicle exhaust in a city with limited public transport and swirling construction dust have caused the crisis, as they do every year.

“Sprinkling water is the only way to bring down the dangerous pollution levels,” said Shruti Bhardwaj, an environmental official charged with monitoring air quality.

The government was finalizing the plans to spray the water from a height of 100 meters, which would be unprecedented, she said, without saying how much of the city of 22 million people would be covered.

The thick blanket of gray air and pollutants has enveloped Delhi for the past four days. A U.S. embassy measure of tiny particulate matter, called PM 2.5, showed a reading of 523 at 9 a.m. on Friday - the outer limit of “good” air is 50.

PM 2.5 is about 30 times finer than a human hair. The particles can be inhaled deep into the lungs, causing heart attacks, strokes, cancer and respiratory diseases.

The air has remained consistently in the “hazardous” category or beyond those levels in recent days, despite a litany of government measures - ordering a halt to construction, restricting car use and raising parking charges fourfold to persuade residents to use public transport. […]

Organizers of music festivals and open air parties have canceled events after the Central Pollution Control Board said air quality could deteriorate further during the weekend. [more]

India to spray capital from on high amid deepening smog emergency

Tina Edwin‏ tweets on 8 November 2017, 'Delhi smog has gotten worse since the morning' and shows the air quality numbers for various parts of Delhi, India. Graphic: Tina Edwin‏ / Twitter

10 November 2017 (Vice News) – In an effort to to combat the toxic smog which enveloped India’s capital this week, officials are planning to spray water over Delhi ahead of worse conditions expected this weekend.

The water will be sprayed from an unprecedented height of 100 meters (300 feet) over the worst affected districts of the city. The water will cling on to the pollutants and bring them back to earth, according to experts, while critics worry the move won’t help much.

“Sprinkling water is the only way to bring down the dangerous pollution levels,” said Shruti Bhardwaj, an environmental official charged with monitoring air quality.

Breathing the air in Delhi is the equivalent of smoking 45 cigarettes a day. In fact, Delhi’s chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, compared the city to a “gas chamber” while the president of the Indian Medical Association, KK Aggarwal, called the pollution a “public health emergency.”

For the fourth consecutive day on Friday, the air quality in India’s capital remained “severe,” and monitors measuring the index maxed out — meaning the real level of pollution could be much higher than recorded. Authorities remain concerned, despite some slight improvement. [more]

Spraying water will fix Delhi’s “gas chamber” of smog, officials say



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