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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

It’s hard to go to sleep in a prison cell with rotten food, violence and air pollution. Can it ever get better?

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The global health disaster of smog-causing factory emissions is being repeated in India this year, with Beijing also hit by elevated air pollution levels this week.

Air quality measurements near Delhi’s Majlisbagh Maximum Security Jail, where 31 people are serving death sentences for murder, is among the worst in the world, showing concentration of air pollutants 40 times the World Health Organization’s safe maximum. (The figure was 170 on Sept. 28. Below are a few previous highs.) (See a map below.)

The air’s incredibly toxic quality is forcing at least 17 people at the maximum security jail to receive medical treatment, the government says. The Doctors without Borders charity said that air quality in the jail was getting worse and that officials had released sick detainees to prevent them from being sent home during emergencies.

The government’s Delhi Environmental Monitoring Network said that, while there was no specific cause, the stench emanating from the prison was the likely reason for the worsened air quality.

After testing the air, however, doctors warn that worsening air quality could make the crusted cell with its rotten-egg smell even worse.

The conditions in the jail are so bad that the government is debating whether to bring in an air purifier or an incubator to keep the prisoners from losing their lives.

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