Deadly Delhi air pollution spurs expat choice between health and wealth

Published:  8 Dec at 6 PM
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Tagged: India, Study Abroad
Delhi’s continuing problem with deadly air pollution is causing expat professionals on high salaries to wonder whether it’s worth exchanging years of their lives for a booming bank account.

For over a month now, Delhi’s toxic smog has blanketed the city, causing zero visibility in many districts. Elderly expat residents who can just about remember the four-day Great Smog of London in 1952 say it’s worse and it’s certainly lasting longer. The event killed around 4,000 Londoners, with its equivalent in Delhi set to kill many, many more. According to Delhi’s Central Pollution Control Board, the air quality index is now just below the 500 mark, indicating severe and deadly pollution levels.

President of the Indian Medical Association Dr K.K. Aggarwal’s Facebook videos show and tell it like it is as well as advising residents not to leave home and to rest as much as possible. Pollution levels containing exhaust fumes, road dust, construction dusts and stubble burning fumes, he stresses, are extremely dangerous for the human heart and lungs.

In spite of earning some of the highest salaries in the expat world, foreign professionals are increasingly considering relocating elsewhere, even at lower wages. Many expat professionals are angry at local government for not finding a solution to the yearly invasion of deadly smog. Emergency measures clearly aren’t working, in spite of the annual promises by the environmental agency.

Radical step are clearly needed, with India as a whole now rated in a major expat study on quality of life as 61st out of the 65 nations surveyed. The survey result was based on pollution in major Indian cities, with Delhi’s the worst. Over 33 per cent of expats working in India take home over $100,000 a year, but a high number are beginning to believe you can’t put a price on health and longevity.
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