The US embassy has put in place a slew of measures for its staff besides taking steps aimed at mitigating the health hazards for its nationals as Delhi struggled amid city’s worst pollution for nearly 17 years.
Authorities have sealed the embassy building’s envelopes, put supplementary air filtration units and constructed vestibules to provide clean air in a bid to battle the pollution.
“We are very concerned by the continuing poor air quality in New Delhi and its impact on the health of our community and the larger public,” US embassy spokesperson Joseph Kruzich told HT.
Delhi’s worst smog in 17 years, which has pushed pollution, is making children wheeze, giving the otherwise healthy a chronic cough, and risking 17 million people to asthma, heart disease, stroke, and even cancer.
“We are taking active steps to mitigate the health impact on our community, inform the American community and larger public on air quality levels and contribute to a constructive dialogue on the health impact of poor air quality,” Kruzich said.
The mission is also planning various events through which international experiences on how best to reduce air pollution levels can be shared.
“As for the wider problem, we have held ongoing discussions with the Delhi government on strategies to improve energy efficiency in government buildings, including sharing expertise on green buildings,” he said.
In May 2016, the mission held a series of workshops in Delhi, as well as Chandigarh, Jaipur, and Lucknow in partnership with IIT Delhi and brought American experts in air quality to work with local officials.
According to Kruzich, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health are collaborating with the National Centre for Disease Control and Chest Research Foundation in Pune to conduct two workshops over the next week
“One on Building the Bridge Between Air Quality, Weather and Health in India on November 7-8 and a joint
Indo-US Workshop to Explore Bilateral Research Opportunities to Address Air Quality and Health Issues on November 8-10,” he said.
The Delhi government has already unveiled a raft of measures, including a temporary ban on construction and demolition work, shut all schools for three days and vacuum cleaning of roads.
But many experts fear the measures may be too little, too late.
On Monday, Hindustan Times’ air quality monitoring system showed the maximum “severe” warning across all but two spots in the Capital at 11am. Anand Vihar in east Delhi and Connaught Place were among the most polluted spots with levels of the most toxic PM 2.5 at 12 to 15 times above the safety limit.