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This image is astounding. It tells us so much!

The straightforward thing it tells us is that all the top ten most polluted cities in the world are in North India.

This refers to PM 2.5, which is particulate matter in air which is 2.5 microns or smaller. This is the most dangerous type and goes into your lungs.

We could dig a little deeper and get the actual data for these cities, specifically the number of days in the year when the PM 2.5 was 10 times the WHO limit or higher.

We could then map this data to the population exposed and understand the human cost. The death estimates are about 1.5 million people every year in India from air pollution

The disease estimates vary widely. Here are my estimates –

About 50 million cases of respiratory illness with about 10 million seriously affected (asthma attacks or other, often incapacitating the person)

About 20 million children with irreversible lung damage

I suspect that air pollution is the cause of 10 to 20 million of the active cases of cancer across North India

There is a long list of other conditions with tens of millions of people affected.

This is a public emergency and must be treated as such.

Chinese cities including Beijing suffered similarly (though the pollution there was much lower than our North Indian cities). The Chinese government has taken enormous measures and made huge investments to make things better for its people.

Our government must push harder. What is being done is not enough.

One of my father’s friends has a child who suffers from the Delhi pollution every winter. He is now leaving Delhi for the sake of his child, after living there for over 20 years.

I found it shocking that the Delhi government allowed this marathon to take place on a smoggy day, despite being advised not to by concerned health professionals –

The marathon was held on a day when pollution was so high that almost anywhere in the developed world it would result in a declaration of a public emergency and possible mass evacuation of people. On such a day, the Delhi government allowed a thousand or more runners to risk damage to their health. I think this is irresponsible.

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