According to a report released on Tuesday, January 30, by the environmental activist organization Greenpeace, New Delhi is India's most polluted city. The report analyzed air quality in 280 cities by looking at the annual average PM10 (coarse pollution particles) level. An estimated 550 million people live in areas where PM10 levels exceeded national safety standards. In particular, Uttar Pradesh state is affected by high pollution; 15 of the 30 most polluted cities in the report are in Uttar Pradesh state, including Varanasi, Hapur, Bareilly, Firozabad, Kanpur, Agra, Allahabad, and Mathura. High levels of pollution were also found in Faridabad (Haryana state), Bhiwadi (Rajasthan state), and Patna (Bihar state).
India has faced criticism for high levels of air pollution in both urban centers and rural areas due to crop burning, vehicle and industrial emissions, dust from construction, and open fires. While some cities, including New Delhi, have installed air quality monitoring systems in recent years, 47 percent of the total population live in unmonitored areas.
New Delhi faced its worst air pollution crisis in decades in 2016, when approximately 1 million children were required to stay home from school and thousands of people were hospitalized for respiratory illnesses. Authorities claim the current spike in pollution is due in part to farmers in neighboring states burning crops ahead of the upcoming growing season.
Individuals present in India are advised to monitor the air quality situation, and to limit outdoor activity and adhere to any instructions issued by the local authorities during periods of particularly high pollution. If experiencing breathing difficulties, do not hesitate to seek medical attention.