Of the 30 most polluted urban areas on the planet, 22 of them are in India, the world's second most populated country. In fact, the nation's capital New Delhi is ranked as the world's most polluted city. And right now the smog is at its worst. Record levels of pollution are expected for at least the next week. Government officials have declared a public health emergency and they've taken steps to try to get a handle on the pollution. They're stopping work at construction sites, which sends dust into the air.
They're limiting the number of cars that are allowed on the road, encouraging people to carpool and reducing traffic by 4 million vehicles each day.
But experts say, this isn't likely to have a major effect on the smog because a lot of it comes from outside New Delhi. Around the time of year when temperatures drop, India's farmers light fires to get rid of leftover crops and eliminate stubble on the ground. That produces a lot of the pollution that settles over New Delhi. The government has tried to address that problem in the past. One way was by providing farmers with discounted equipment that could keep them from having to burn the unwanted leftovers but nothing has really worked. And it may take a change in the weather for the problem to improve. That's especially concerning to residents of New Delhi because researchers have compared living in a place with heavily polluted air to smoking a pack of cigarettes everyday.