14 Nov 2017

Air Pollution: New Delhi, India

Travellers are advised to take sensible precautions to minimise their exposure to high levels of air pollution Air Pollution: New Delhi, India

New Delhi is currently experiencing “severe” levels of air pollution, and the Indian Medical Association declared a public health emergency in New Delhi in early November [1].

The Indian Medical Association advised residents to stay indoors and asked for schools to be closed, as the average air quality index in Delhi hit 396 (very poor); the level of PM2.5 reached 703 μg/m3.Residents have also been advised by the Heart Care Foundation of India to take measures to reduce their exposure to high levels of pollution by reducing outdoor activities and physical exertion [1]. 

Advice for travellers

Currently, there are no travel restrictions to New Delhi relating to this situation. However, travellers are advised to take sensible precautions to minimise their exposure to high levels of air pollution and to take notice of any Health Advisories published by the Indian Ministry of Health and Environmental Agency. 

Studies have shown that long-term exposure to air pollution reduces life expectancy by increasing deaths from cardiovascular and respiratory conditions and from lung cancer. Short-term exposure to elevated levels of air pollutants may result in an exacerbation of pre-existing respiratory or cardiovascular illnesses. Those with pre-existing conditions that might make them more vulnerable to the effects of air pollution who are travelling to areas of high pollution should discuss their travel plans with their healthcare provider, follow precautions to minimise their exposure, and carry adequate supplies of their regular medication. 

It is not clear to what extent face masks would be beneficial to reducing exposure and they may compound difficulties in breathing for those with pre-existing lung conditions. 

Country-specific health advice for travellers to India can be found on our Country Information pages. 

Travellers are advised to consult the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for current travel advisories for India. 

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