New York tops New Delhi in air pollution level

By Arul Louis

New York, Jun 7 (IANS): The US financial capital's air hit the world's worst air pollution level for cities on Tuesday night topping New Delhi, prompting New York Mayor Erid Adams to issue an alert asking people to limit outdoor activities.

He said that the city's Air Quality Index (AQI) number hit 218 because of smoke from forest fires in Canada up north.

At the time New Delhi's AQI number was in the 190 range.

As the city choked on the drifting smoke, iIts skyline turned into various shades of grey and, as the evening sun filtered through, orange, obscuring the tops of some of the high-rise buildings.

New York's media and the US government have long taunted India's capital for its air quality but now the US financial capital got a first-hand experience of the environmental problem.

The New York Times, for example, has touted headlines like, "What India Looks Like When the Air Turns to Poison" and "Choking on Air in New Delhi".

The US Embassy in New Delhi maintains an online dashboard of air quality data for the capital and five other cities.

Raging fires in forests of Quebec and other parts of Canada in recent days have flooded the US northeast with smoke setting off health and environmental alarms.

According to IQAir, which monitors air quality in real time around the world, the AQI index number was down to 161 for New York at 7.30 p.m. in India and 9 a.m. in New York on Wednesday compared to 191 for New Delhi.

Despite the reprieve, Adams said that the conditions "are expected to deteriorate further" on Wednesday afternoon and night.

New York still remained the city with the second-most air pollution level.

Unlike in New Delhi where the worst air quality problems are man-made, fueled by farmers burning the remnants of the harvests, in the US forest fires - an annular feature of summer and late spring - are responsible.

The current wave of forest infernos in Canada has spread over 3.3 million hectares, according to reports, covering also several other provinces.

Last year, the US had one of its worst forest fire seasons that engulfed 146,680 and led to the evacuation of many towns.



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