Delhi smog levels drop from severe to very poor—you know, half-marathon weather

Enlarge / A man wears a face mask as he takes part in the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon 2017 in New Delhi on November 19, 2017. (credit: Getty | SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP)

Despite extremely dangerous levels of air pollution smothering Delhi and creating “gas chamber” conditions, thousands took to the streets to run a half marathon Sunday. Most ran without masks that would filter out harmful pollution.

In recent weeks, air pollution measurements around the sprawling megacity has been off the charts, hitting levels around 30 times those considered safe by the World Health Organization. Authorities blamed the toxic smog on seasonal crop burns in nearby areas as well as calm winds and the usual emissions from vehicles and industry.

Exasperated doctors explained that it was harmful to merely walk around in the smog, let alone run. The thick pollution can spark asthma attacks, lung and heart damage, and sudden cardiac arrest, they warned. And they implored race organizers and authorities to cancel or postpone the event, which has been long set for November 19.

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