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India admits 'Delhi as polluted as Beijing', but dismisses WHO data

Published on May 8, 2014 8:33 PM
Pedestrians and visitors gather as smog envelopes The Red Fort in New Delhi on Nov 7, 2009. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

NEW DELHI (AFP) - India's state air monitoring centre made a rare admission on Thursday that pollution in New Delhi was comparable with Beijing, but disputed a WHO finding that the Indian capital had the dirtiest atmosphere in the world.

A study of 1,600 cities across 91 countries released on Wednesday by the WHO showed Delhi had the world's highest annual average concentration of small airborne particles known as PM2.5 of 153.

These extremely fine particles of less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter are linked with increased rates of chronic bronchitis, lung cancer and heart disease as they penetrate deep into the lungs and can pass into the bloodstream.

Indian officials in the past have bristled at research showing the capital as worse than Beijing where thick smog has triggered public health warnings and public concern that are mostly absent in New Delhi.

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