POST TIME: 17 November, 2019 00:00 00 AM
Air pollution
‘Oxygen bar’ opens in Delhi
The New York Times, New Delhi

‘Oxygen bar’ 
opens in Delhi

As air pollution shot up to dangerous levels across India on Friday, underscoring an already dire public health crisis, a crowd descended on a small shop in New Delhi for a novel solution: a 15-minute hit of clean oxygen. At Oxy Pure, a self-styled “oxygen bar,” customers strapped tubes to their noses and inhaled scents of lavender, lemongrass or spearmint. In the absence of other options, Lisa Dwivedi, a Ukrainian living in the city, said she came to the bar because she was fed up with having itchy eyes, a runny nose and a swollen throat.

“I don’t know if it’s psychological, but it makes me feel good to know I am inhaling pure oxygen, if only for 15 minutes,” she said. The air pollution crisis in India has become so severe that officials in the capital declared a public health emergency earlier this month, when levels of deadly particulate matter rose a few dozen times above what the World Health Organization

considers safe. Doctors are reporting a surge of patients with severe respiratory problems. This week, New Delhi’s government shut all primary schools for a second time this month because of pollution in the capital region, home to more than 46 million people.

But despite air so scary it may be causing brain damage in children, some central government officials have either resisted acknowledging the problem, which has persisted in India for years, or minimized its severity.

During an especially poisonous day, when levels of PM 2.5, tiny, cancer-linked particulate matter, rose to some 60 times the safe limit in parts of the capital, Harsh Vardhan, India’s health minister, recommended eating carrots to fight any harmful effects. Another senior lawmaker criticized those who tried to stop farmers from burning their crops, and instead suggested praying to the Hindu god of rain for relief.