Indian bummer: Is Delhi the smoggiest city in Asia?

I cough a lot.

It’s a pervasive pulmonary curse here in Delhi where I live, courtesy of the city’s soupy winter smog.

The air pollution in India’s capital during the wind-deprived cold season is abominable. The sources are numerous and perpetual: It’s caused by soot spewed out of coal-burning power plants and from vehicles idling on congested roads. It’s caused by fires — large ones used to remove crop residue from surrounding farms, and small ones used for cooking and warmth by city dwellers.

Sometimes data shows that the air in Delhi is worse than it is in Beijing, that presumed global capital of vaporized carbon. Sometimes data shows the opposite. So which of these two polluted Asian megacities has dirtier air overall?

An unusual international brouhaha has just erupted over that very question, fueled by media coverage of Delhi’s pea-soup smog.

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