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India to spray water over New Delhi to combat toxic smog

India to spray water over New Delhi to combat toxic smog
From CBC - November 11, 2017

India plans to spray waterover its capital, New Delhi, tocombat toxic smog that hastriggered a pollution emergency, officials said on Friday, withconditions expected to worsen over the weekend.

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

"Sprinkling water is the only way to bring down thedangerous pollution levels," said Shruti Bhardwaj, anenvironmental official charged with monitoring air quality.

The government was finalizing the plans to spray the waterfrom a height of 100 metres, which would be unprecedented, shesaid, without saying how much of the city of 22 million peoplewould be covered.

The thick blanket of grey air and pollutants has envelopedDelhi for the past four days. A U.S. Embassy measure of tinyparticulate matter, called PM 2.5, showed a reading of 523 at 9a.m. on Friday the outer limit of "good" air is 50.

'I have installed six air purifiers in my home and closedall the windows, but my eyes are still watering.' - Ranveer Singhal, Delhi resident

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

The air has remained consistently in the "hazardous"category or beyond those levels in recent days, despite a litanyof government measures ordering a halt to construction,restricting car use and raising parking charges fourfold topersuade residents to use public transport.

Alternate days for cars

Commercial trucks are now banned from the city unless theyare transporting essential commodities and the Delhi transportdepartment said it reintroduced an "odd-even"scheme underwhich cars with licence plates ending in an odd number areallowed one day and even-numbered cars the next day.

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