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Thick air, toxic smog shroud 5 major cities: Delhi, Beijing, Paris, London and LA; Delhi diesel car registration ban until...

By WcP.Watchful.Eye - Posted on 15 December 2015

Delhi is now the world’s dirtiest city, surpassing Beijing for air pollution limit

Beijing issues its first red alert as air pollution hits hazardous levels

Paris chokes on pollution; City of Light becomes City of Haze

smog vs clean air

*update* 16Dec2015
BBC - India Supreme Court cracks down on Delhi vehicle pollutionIt has ordered a temporary ban on the sale of large diesel vehicles and stopped trucks more than 10 years old from entering the city. India has 13 of the world's 20 most polluted cities, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported last year.

The Guardian - Delhi is now the world’s dirtiest city, surpassing Beijing for air pollution limits
11 December 2015 - Authorities in Delhi are considering shutting schools in the sprawling Indian capital as a bout of toxic smog stretches into a second month. Many schools have already restricted outdoors activities as record levels of air pollution in the Indian capital are expected to last for months to come. Delhi is now the world’s dirtiest city, surpassing Beijing for air pollution limits. The megacity, already the world’s most polluted by some measures, has been suffering record levels of pollution which exceed recommended WHO guidelines by between 15 and 30 times.

The smog, a combination of exhaust from cars and lorries, dust, smoke from fires and industrial output which is intensified by cold temperatures, is predicted to last for months to come. India has taken one of the hardest public lines at the climate change talks now reaching a climax in Paris, and in the lead-up to them. The country was notably late in submitting its national plan on curbing emissions, which focused on renewable energy and invoked the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi.

IndianExpress – 12 December 2015 -NGT cracks down: No registration of diesel cars in Delhi till January 6. The NGT has also directed the central and state government departments not to purchase any diesel vehicles. Irked with the Centre and the Delhi government for seeking more time to address the issue of phasing out diesel vehicles, the National Green Tribunal Friday directed that no diesel vehicles be registered in the capital till January 6. “In view of the serious contribution of vehicular pollution to the air quality of NCT, Delhi, it is important that the government should take a serious view and a decision (on) whether any vehicle — particularly diesel vehicle (old or new) — should be registered… As an interim measure till next date of posting subject to hearing of all concerned parties, we direct that diesel vehicles of more than 10 years of age as already directed, as well as new diesel vehicles, would not be registered in NCT, Delhi,” directed the bench headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar.

Unhealthy smog hovers over Beijing on Day 2 of smog alert
Unhealthy smog hovered over downtown Beijing as limits on cars, factories and construction sites kept pollution from spiking even higher Wednesday, on the second of three days of restrictions triggered by the city's first red alert for smog. Cars with even-numbered license plates were kept off roads, and schools and constructions sites remained closed. Far fewer than usual pedestrians walked the streets — many of them wearing white masks to filter the air.

Pollution levels midday in downtown Beijing were mostly between 250 and 300 on the city's air quality index — suggesting the restrictions were having an effect. The city's alert was triggered by a forecast Monday that pollution levels would be above 300 for three days straight. The index is strongly linked to levels of the dangerous tiny particles PM2.5, which at midday ranged from about 200 to 250 micrograms per cubic meter downtown — or 8 to 10 times the safe level recommended by the World Health Organization. Although many other cities in China and elsewhere in the world typically see levels of smog even worse than Wednesday's pollution in Beijing, the Chinese capital's latest bout of smog has triggered its first red alert under a 2-year-old system of alerts and restrictions to deal with persistent contamination. A grey soupy haze subsumed Beijing's unique landmarks.

Air pollution in London's Oxford Street has already exceeded the legal limit for the whole of 2015, in the space of just four days, experts have warned. Excessive levels of nitrogen dioxide have already surpassed EU limit for 2015 in both Oxford Street and Putney High Street.

Air pollution: High levels to spread across England
The pollution has caused a thick layer of dust to form on cars and buildings, as Pallab Ghosh reports. People with health problems are being warned to avoid strenuous activity after forecasts that air pollution will reach high levels in parts of England.

LaTimes Dec 12, 2015 - Paris chokes on pollution; City of Light becomes City of Haze
In smog-choked Paris, the Eiffel Tower is seen through the haze. For one day this month, air quality in the French capital was reported to be the worst among major global cities.

Nine-year-old Lily Martin has been coughing for most of the last three weeks. From morning to evening and most of the night, it has been hack, hack, hack. She is pale and exhausted. Her mother, Sophie, is worried sick. The child is not the only one suffering. All over Paris, people are coughing, wheezing and sniffing as a spike in air pollution has made the French capital one of the smoggiest cities in the world.

For one day last week, in fact, air quality in Paris was reported to be the worst among major global cities -- a distinction usually associated with Beijing or New Delhi.

The haze enveloping Paris, which usually enjoys relatively clean air for a city its size, has prompted warnings to the young and elderly to avoid even moderate exercise. Schools have been instructed to keep children in classrooms and limit sports activities. On Monday, in an attempt to improve air quality, authorities enacted a 24-hour restriction on cars with even-numbered license plates, halving the number of cars entering the city and surrounding areas.

On Wednesday, when the air was at its worst, a toxic, choking haze masked the city's most famous landmarks, including the Eiffel Tower. Along the city's grand boulevards, the Champs Elysées and the famous squares -- Bastille, Opera, Republique, Nation -- pedestrians could smell and taste the smog.
On Friday, near Place de la Republique, an optician stood at the door of his store offering passersby cheap cardboard spectacles through which to see a solar eclipse. Most people laughed and walked on; the yellow-tinged gray cloud covering the city meant Parisians would see nothing of the extraordinary event.

Experts say the problem is caused by vehicle emissions, an absence of wind to disperse the pollutants and other meteorological conditions, including sunshine coupled with a drop in temperatures. Those have combined to create a stagnant cover of warm air over Paris, which sits in the Seine basin, a geographic bowl. Critics have pointed fingers at successive French governments that have promoted diesel vehicles by subsidizing the fuel so that it is about 15% cheaper than gasoline. Though diesel is more fuel efficient and produces less carbon monoxide, it emits nitrogen oxides that react with sunlight to produce low-level ozone and fine soot particles known to cause bronchial irritation and cancer.

In addition to banning cars with even-numbered plates, Paris ordered drivers to adhere to a speed limit of just over 12 mph. About 750 police officers were posted on busy intersections to ensure that drivers stuck to the rules -- and issue on-the-spot, $30 fines for those who didn't. To assuage disgruntled drivers, all public transport in and around the city was free, as was residential parking. "Clean" vehicles, including electric cars and those carrying more than three people, were exempted.

Paris, the City of Light became the City of Smog - Measures are being taken such as creating more pedestriansed areas. and the banning of diesel cars by 2020. Paris is fast becoming a pollution capital after the air quality watchdog ‘Airparif’ once again registered high risk levels for residents. So far this years there have been 12 days where the pollution index has hit above 75 out of a possible 100 for the city and its environs.. Measures are being taken such as creating more pedestriansed areas. and the banning of diesel cars by 2020.

The American Lung Assn. says Los Angeles again topped a list of cities with the worst smog in the nation. Los Angeles has again topped a list of the cities with the worst smog in the nation, violating federal health standards for ozone an average of 122 days a year. The annual air pollution rankings, being released Wednesday by the American Lung Assn., were dominated by the Los Angeles Basin and California's Central Valley, which despite vast improvements over the last few decades still have the nation's highest levels of ozone and fine particle pollution. "Air pollution is not just a nuisance or the haze we see on the horizon; it's literally putting our health in danger," said Bonnie Holmes-Gen, senior policy director of the American Lung Assn. in California. "We've come a long way, but the status quo is not acceptable."

The report evaluated metropolitan areas based on recorded levels of ozone, the main ingredient in smog, and conducted a separate analysis of fine particles — or soot — the microscopic pollutants that tend to build up in colder, winter months. The Los Angeles region ranked fourth among metropolitan areas nationwide for short-term spikes in fine particle pollution, coming in behind Fresno, Visalia and Bakersfield. The L.A. Basin tied for third with Bakersfield for annual fine particle concentrations.

In a city where “nobody walks,” emissions from millions of cars get trapped in the Los Angeles Basin. Some of the largest metropolitan areas in the United States have really earned their reputations as centers of pollution. If you love your lungs, steer clear of the Greater Los Angeles area, where the smog is about as famous—and prevalent—as George Clooney sightings. In a city where “nobody walks,” emissions from millions of cars get trapped in the Los Angeles Basin. People in nearby Riverside (No. 1) and Los Angeles (No. 2) get the chance to breathe clean air in only one out of 12 days, roughly. The desert city of Phoenix (No. 3) faces similar problems: Triple-digit summer temperatures and more than a million residents fuel the air pollution. The smog is so bad that it has its own name: Locals refer to it as the “brown cloud” draping the horizon on a still day in the Sun Valley.


Image courtesy Tsering Topgyal / AP, PTI photo, Feng Li / Getty Images, CNN, London Green Party,, Jacques Brinon / Associated Press, ,, Cultura RM / Justin Borucki, and Neil Podoll/iStock

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