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November 10, 2017
PRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty Images

A thick haze has settled on Delhi, India's capital, causing serious health risks for residents as heavy pollution plagues the city for the fourth straight day.

The pollution is a mix of vehicle exhaust, smoke from fires, and road dust, experts told CNN. The air is heavy with microscopic particles, smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, that can lodge deep within a person's lungs. Air quality readings in the region have hit the 1,000 mark on the U.S. Embassy air quality index over the last few days, CNN reports. For context, anything over 25 is considered unsafe, according to the World Health Organization. For even more context, the Berkeley Earth Science research group found that breathing the air in Delhi is similar to smoking 44 cigarettes a day — or more than two packs.

Residents feel suffocated by the haze, and doctors are seeing an increase in patients complaining of chest pain and burning eyes, CNN reports. The government has taken steps to combat the problem by halting civil construction projects, banning the use of trucks, and partially banning personal car use. And children have been advised to stay indoors. Elianna Spitzer