Pollution is so bad in India’s capital city people are taking ‘smog selfies’


A Delhi policeman stands guard at the smog-enshrouded war memorial India Gate in New Delhi, India, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016.
Image: AP Photo/Manish Swarup

The Indian government declared an “emergency situation” in New Delhi on Sunday as air pollution hit dangerous new highs and residents have the selfies to prove it.

Officials announced a slew of measures to combat toxic smog in the capital city, including halting construction projects, canceling school, closing a coal-fired power plant for 10 days and dousing the dusty roads with water.

City dwellers, meanwhile, took “smog selfies” as they strolled through air so dirty you can taste and smell it.

Visitors photographed their mugs against the hazy backdrop that blanketed popular tourist attractions like the India Gate, a 138-foot-hight structure built in 1931 to honor Indian soldiers who died in World War I.

Indian tourists take selfies against the war memorial India Gate in New Delhi, India, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016.

Image: AP Photo/Manish Swarup

Other selfie snappers joined hundreds of protesters in downtown New Delhi to demand the government address the deadly smog.

Visiting cricket players from Gujarat posed in protective face masks. Their match and one other for the Ranji Trophy were cancelled this weekend due to the city’s rising pollution levels.

New Delhi, already one of the world’s dirtiest cities, is experiencing its worst smog in nearly two decades.

The city saw levels of PM2.5 the tiny particulate matter than can clog lungs of more than 900 micrograms per cubic meter on Saturday. That’s more than 90 times the level that World Health Organization considers safe and is 15 times higher than the Indian government’s norms.

Look at the amount of smog! The background looks blurry #delhi #smog #goaway #gooners #coyg #love #afcvthfc

A photo posted by Dipshika (@little_carmen09) on

The Smog Squad ! #delhi #pollution #smog #mask #igers

A photo posted by RAHUL RANA (@rahul__rana) on

Particulate matter comes from vehicle exhaust pipes, coal plant smokestacks, burning trash piles, dust and other sources. The pollution can lead to asthma, lung cancer, heart disease and related illnesses, particularly in growing children.

In China, Beijing and other major cities are also combatting crippling air pollution. Visitors there have similarly taken to smog selfies to capture the dangerous gray haze.

Tourists wearing face masks take a selfie on the Tiananmen Square in heavy smog in Beijing, China, Dec. 24, 2015.

Image: Jia qing – Imaginechina

New Delhi’s severe pollution was initially blamed on the widespread bursting of firecrackers during the festival Diwali.

But images published by NASA last week suggested that crop burning in the neighboring states of Punjab and Haryana could be the reason for the skyrocketing levels of PM2.5.

New Delhi’s chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, told reporters Sunday that farmers in those states begin burning straw from their rice paddy crop at the start of every winter to clear their plants for planting wheat.

Kejriwal said people should avoid going outdoors until the pollution levels drop and should work from home as much as possible. As in, maybe put down the selfie sticks, too.

Associated Press contributed reporting.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2016/11/06/india-new-delhi-smog-selfies/

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