What’s in the Air in Sydney and New Delhi?

Meanwhile, in Sydney and New Delhi, residents are suffocating as toxic smoke clouds linger in the cities.

Countries continues to cough in asphyxiating pollution

In New Delhi, schools have been closed for several days as it is impossible to see more than a few meters away. The Yamuna River, the main source of water for the Indian capital's 19 million inhabitants, is spitting out toxic foam. This is what the equivalent of nearly 9% of American population lives in India. Delhi government distributes masks to children as air quality worsens. Since November 1st, New Delhi has declared a “public health emergency.” There, the pollution rate is 32 times higher than the World Health Organization’s recommendations.

Meanwhile in Sydney, the 4 million inhabitants woke up to a city covered in a thick haze of toxic smoke. This is due to the pollution that’s reached ten times the hazardous levels. The city usually looks super smoggy. But for the people of Sydney, the air is currently unbreathable. This pollution is coming from the smoke from raging bushfires that have been devastating Australia’s coasts since early November, about a hundred kilometers from Sydney. Though they are frequent during this dry season, these could be the worst fires ever recorded in Australia. They have already cost the lives of six people and hundreds of koalas, trapped by the flames.

Every year at the beginning of winter, when the wind is weak, human and industrial activities immerse the capital into a cloud of pollution. The first victims are the children. In India, a country that accounts for 7 of the 10 most polluted cities in the world, 100,000 children under the age of 5 die each year because of air pollution according to the Centre for Science and Environment. As bad as it is, Delhi's air quality fared better than that in Sydney as bushfires razed the eastern coast of Australia.