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India Pollution

India's smog-clogged capital has reached dangerous levels of pollution

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Air pollution in New Delhi has reached dangerous levels.

The situation is so bad, the chief minister called the smoke-clogged streets of India's capital a 'gas chamber,' and the World Health Organization says it's nearly 30 times the level considered safe. Breathing air in New Delhi this week is the equivalent of smoking a couple packs of cigarettes a day.

India Air Pollution
Indian commuters wait for transport amid thick blanket of smog on the outskirts of New Delhi, India, Friday, Nov. 10, 2017. As air pollution peaked this week in Delhi, it rose to more than 30 times the World Health Organization’s recommended safe level. Experts have compared it to smoking a couple of packs of cigarettes a day. A recent report by the Lancet medical journal estimated that a quarter of all premature deaths in India, some 2.5 million each year, are caused by pollution. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

Daily life has already been drastically affected. Thousands of schools have closed, a half-marathon was canceled, and United Airlines decided not to fly any more planes into the city until conditions improved.

Smog is a familiar sight during winter in Northern India, and last year saw a record-breaking smoke cloud envelop the city, but this year the pollution is worse than ever. Dust and burning crops, as well as factory and vehicle emissions are contributing to toxic air.

India Air Pollution
In this Nov. 9, 2017 photo, two men walk past a cow surrounded by morning smog on the outskirts of New Delhi, India. Thick smog has constricted India’s capital this week, smudging landmarks from view and angering residents. Many are frustrated at the lack of meaningful action by authorities. The air was the worst it has been all year in New Delhi, with microscopic particles that can affect breathing and health spiking, at times, to 75 times the level considered safe by the World Health Organization. (AP Photo/R S Iyer)

But the situation is far more dire than a seasonal smog. According to a recent report in the Lancet medical journal, 2.5 million deaths in India each year can be attributed to pollution.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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