Play was stopped three times during the India v Sri Lanka cricket match on Sunday 3 November. The Sri Lankan team wore anti-pollution masks, complaining of breathing problems at the Feroz Shah Kotla ground in New Delhi. Air pollution in New Delhi has been a serious problem for sometime. The Guardian and Agence France Press reports that:
The extremely poor air in the city is the result of a combination of road dust, open fires, vehicle exhaust fumes, industrial emissions and the burning of crop residues in neighbouring states. Indian weather agencies also blame dust storms that originate in the Gulf. New Delhi has a paucity of public transport.
The World Air Quality Index promotes Air Pollution awareness and provides transparent Air Quality information for more than 70 countries, covering over than 9000 stations in 600 major cities. This information is available through two websites: aqicn.org and waqi.info.
Using AQICN data it is possible to look at the present situation in New Delhi.
These were the conditions at the time of writing.
The AQI shown, PM2.5, is a measure of the occurrence of particles or droplets in the air with a size of 2.5 microns (2.5 μm) or less per cubic metre. PM refers to Particulate Matter. A micron is a unit of measurement for distance. There are about 25,000 microns2.5 cms approximately an inch. They are very small particles that can be inhaled deeply into the lungs causing harmful effects.
Of great concern is the impact on those who are forced to work in the pollution and this week it has included these elite sportsmen.
The insistence from game organisers that play continue raises important questions. To what extent are players expendable contributors to the software that is telecast through the world on cable and satellite services?
Delhi’s air quality remains in the Very Unhealthy and Hazardous categories.
Perhaps one positive aspect is that it might draw greater world attention to the problem of air pollution.