NEW DELHI – Air pollution is a silent killer as it has caused more deaths than terrorism in India, according to an author of a new book on the crisis, as the Indian capital was on Thursday covered in a thick blanket of fumes, the morning after firecrackers were set off for the Hindu festival of Diwali.
Siddharth Singh, whose “The Great Smog of India” (Penguin) has just hit the stands, said the worsening pollution situation in the country could only be tackled through comprehensive policy measures.
“It’s a fact that more people die due to air pollution than due to terrorism or all the India-Pakistan wars combined,” Singh told EFE in an interview in New Delhi.
Singh said pollution deaths were not spectacular enough to attract the attention of people and the media as “most of them are due to ailments that become worse due to air pollution or ailments which have been triggered due to air pollution.”
He said studies and research focused more on Delhi but “the quality of air in villages in north India is equally or sometimes much worse than in the cities.”
Several areas in Delhi on Thursday morning recorded dangerously high levels of PM10 – particulate matter with diameter less than 10 microns – and PM 2.5.
In Lodhi road, the level of PM10 reached 938 per cubic meter whereas PM2.5 level was recorded at 944.
The World Health Organization considers a concentration of more than 200 micrograms per cubic meters of PM10 to be harmful to human health. Levels above 300 are marked toxic.
The author said air pollution is a problem of the entire north India rather than just its urban centers, attributing it to the “geographical reality of the region.”
“With the Himalayas at the top and the Arabian Sea at the southwest of the country, the winds kind of fit on to it and due to the various temperature effects (during) the time of winter all the particulate matter gets trapped in this region,” he said.