Welcome to Unbreathable India

Your visit to India will be an unforgettable journey to a land filled with colours, rich in history, culture, sights and smells but its the endemic air pollution that will leave you breathless.

Arriving In India?

Delhi, the entry point for most travelers, is a traveller’s dream. Filled to the brim with sights like the famous Red Fort of the Moghul Emperors to spice markets and cutting edge modern design.
But be warned!
Sightseeing is be a dangerous past-time in a city where levels of the super toxic tiny particles known as PM 2.5 are regularly at extremely hazardous 400 – 500 ppm (parts per million).
In this range the Indian government advises its citizens to stay indoors and not risk their health in air that is a toxic soup of noxious chemicals.
It’s no reason to stay locked in your hotel room! Just be sure to pack an top quality air pollution mask, carry a small can of oxygen and don’t do any running or climbing of stairs.

Where will you go? What will you breathe?

India is a riot of colour, a cultural feast, a sensuous treat! but it’s hard to experience it when it is hidden behind a wall of smog. Here are some ideas of things to try and see through the haze.

Taj Mahal in Agra

Air pollution in Agra is as bad as Delhi. Home to the magnificent Taj Mahal, the world’s most famous monument to love. These days it is shrouded in pollution so bad it significantly increases the risk of heart attack. Talk about a real heart breaker.

The Bathing Ghats in Varanasi

Varanasi, one of oldest and holiest cities in the world, it is also one of the most polluted. Chronic air pollution is an all year round problem for those who are not here seeking moksha when they die.

The Kumbh Mela in Allahabad

Held every 12 years at the confluence of the three sacred rivers of India – the Ganga, the Yamuna and the invisible Saraswati, it is one of the greatest religious spectacles on earth with over a 120 million people making the pilgrimage.

Surrounded by thermal power plants and ravaged by cheap diesel this sacred site now suffocates under a blanket of poisonous pollution that no amount of spiritual energy can clear. Regularly in the world’s top five most polluted cities Allahabad is gasping for breath.

The Golden Temple in Amritsar

Home of the glorious Golden Temple Amritsar is the spiritual home of the Sikh faith. It is able to  boast larger numbers of tourists than the Taj Mahal. Sadly the air pollution is so bad – almost perpetually in the high 200s and into 300s – that the government’s own guidelines suggest people stay inside.  Each weekday the Golden Temple receives 100,000 visitors, they shouldn’t have to risk getting asthma or worse, shorten their lives by 15%, to experience it’s wonder.

Healthy Travel Tips!

It used to be that the health advice for people visiting India would be to drink only bottled water, say no to street food and take your own toilet roll.

Now visitors face a far more serious health risk

  • Air pollution is a killer, claiming over 1.6 million people in in India alone last year.
  • Air pollution seriously damages your lungs, your brain, your heart, your skin and your hair.
  • A day spent in air pollution as bad as it is currently across Northern India leaves you feeling breathless with a disgusting metallic taste in your mouth, “gritty” eyes, and exhausted.
  • Your skin and hair is also immediately effected looking dull and lacklustre.
  • It disproportionately affects children and old people.
  • It is a silent, ever present threat.

Our healthy travel advice now is to invest in a top of the range pollution mask and take canisters of oxygen in your checked luggage. They are bulky but well worth it.

To help you decide where to go and the precautionary measures you need to take here is a

Real Time Air Quality Index Map of India

AQIAir Pollution LevelHealth ImplicationsCautionary Statement (for PM2.5)
0 - 50GoodAir quality is considered satisfactory, and air pollution poses little or no riskNone
51 -100ModerateAir quality is acceptable; however, for some pollutants there may be a moderate health concern for a very small number of people who are unusually sensitive to air pollution.Active children and adults, and people with respiratory disease, such as asthma, should limit prolonged outdoor exertion.
101-150Unhealthy for Sensitive GroupsMembers of sensitive groups may experience health effects. The general public is not likely to be affected.Active children and adults, and people with respiratory disease, such as asthma, should limit prolonged outdoor exertion.
151-200UnhealthyEveryone may begin to experience health effects; members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effectsActive children and adults, and people with respiratory disease, such as asthma, should avoid prolonged outdoor exertion; everyone else, especially children, should limit prolonged outdoor exertion
201-300Very UnhealthyHealth warnings of emergency conditions. The entire population is more likely to be affected.Active children and adults, and people with respiratory disease, such as asthma, should avoid all outdoor exertion; everyone else, especially children, should limit outdoor exertion.
300+HazardousHealth alert: everyone may experience more serious health effectsEveryone should avoid all outdoor exertion