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India Under Smog

1440 Daily Digest

Smog in New Delhi, India, reached hazardous levels late last week, as the air quality index hit over 400 on multiple days—10 times the World Health Organization's target level. Many schools, factories, and construction sites closed Friday out of health concerns.

India regularly tops the list of most polluted countries due to a mix of geographic- and human-caused factors. Cool, windless days in winter exacerbate the country's greenhouse gas emissions, with cold air keeping particulates close to the ground. On top of vehicular, industrial, and energy pollutants, annual agricultural burnings in the country's north—a practice meant to speed up the clearing of ground to plant winter crops—compound the area's poor air quality. An estimated 1.6 million people die every year in India due to complications from air pollution.

The pollution crisis comes as the United Nations' annual climate change conference begins in Egypt, where climate change compensation to developing countries is on the agenda for the first time.

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