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Air pollution a persistent problem in New Delhi and Beijing


Smog is a constant issue in New Delhi (file photo courtesy: wili_hybrid)
Smog is a constant issue in New Delhi (file photo courtesy: wili_hybrid)

Staff writers

February 2, 2013 — Thick smog and poor air quality are persistent problems in parts of China and India.

NASA imagery from 2007 showing pollution over Beijing (courtesy: NASA)
NASA imagery from 2007 showing pollution over Beijing (courtesy: NASA)

Earlier this week, Chinese officials rushed to impose emergency measures that would rid the city of a "super smog" that blanketed Beijing for the better part of a month.

According to local media, authorities are ordering tens of thousands of older cars off the road and have fast-tracked an initaitve to grow as many trees as possible within the next five years.

Late Thursday evening, Mother Nature provided some relief -- but officials acknowledge that more work needs to be done.

Strong winds helped dissipate some of the smog, revealing a blue sky on Friday for the first time in weeks. 

The heavy pollution caused delays and cancellations for hundreds of flights in Tianjin on Thursday.

Meanwhile, in India, air pollution levels are on the rise.

On Thursday, New Delhi's air quality was actually worse than Beijing's, according to The New York Times.

On that day, the level of particulates in the air topped 400 micrograms per cubic meter in New Delhi suburbs, compared with levels that hovered around the 170 mark in Beijing. 

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, levels higher than 300 micrograms per cubic meter are considered "hazardous."

But that doesn't mean Beijing is in the clear.

The city's air quality index regularly exceeds 500 micrograms and on January 12, the particulate level skyrocketed to 755 micrograms -- setting a new record.

The World Health Organization recommends a maximum daily level of 20 micrograms.

With files from CNN/CCTV/The New York Times

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