New Delhi half-marathon tries radio waves to beat city’s toxic smog

After medical experts urged the canceling of last year’s race, marathon organizers responded by bringing the race date forward to October. (Reuters)
Updated 21 October 2018
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New Delhi half-marathon tries radio waves to beat city’s toxic smog

  • The measures had reduced pollution by “at least” 30 percent during the race
  • Air quality at monitoring stations near the route were still rated as “very unhealthy” under international standards

NEW DELHI: New Delhi’s half-marathon race used ultra high frequency (UHF) radio waves to clear the air for the runners on Sunday, an experimental technique the organizers hope could improve the city’s notorious air quality.
India is home to the world’s 14 most polluted cities. Last year the smoke from burning crop waste and thousands of firecrackers contributed to a toxic smog that blanketed the capital of New Delhi and a large part of northern India in toxic smog.
The city’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal warned New Dehli would face the same fate this year if Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party did not do more to combat pollution.
After medical experts urged the canceling of last year’s race, marathon organizers responded by bringing the race date forward to October, away from November’s Diwali festival when the firecrackers are set off.
They also tried to dampen down the dust that hangs over the city in winter, including reagents from the mining industry to treat roads, dropping water vapor along the course from a height of 20 feet.
The techniques also included using the UHF waves to dispel pollution from particulate matter measuring only 2.5 microns, known as PM2.5, whose small size — about 30 times smaller than a human hair — allows it to lodge deep in the lungs, damaging the respiratory system.
“It was a great day with clear skies and no pollution-related incidents among our 35,000 runners,” Vivek Singh, a managing director of race promoter Procam International told Reuters.
He said the Delhi government, which last year resorted to shutting power stations and banning some cars from roads to clear the air, should look at using the UHF technology, manufactured by a Bangalore-based company Devic Earth, to mitigate pollution.
“We have shown that it works and made a point to tell the authorities,” he added.
Pictures of the event, which began at 5 a.m. (0030 GMT) showed relatively clear skies, with the early morning sun visible through a sight haze.
“I did doubt signing up, but it was just the usual morning haze, and didn’t feel hard to run in,” said Emily Jackson, a British carbon market analyst living in New Delhi who competed in the race for the first time.
“I only saw one person with a mask.”
Singh said the measures had reduced pollution by “at least” 30 percent during the race, though air quality at monitoring stations near the route were still rated as “very unhealthy” under international standards.
The women’s race was won by Ethiopian Tsehay Gemechu in a course-record time of 1:06:50, while teenage compatriot Andamalak Belihu finished first in the men’s race with a time of 59:18.


Woman shot dead in N.Ireland in ‘terrorist incident’

Updated 18 min 41 sec ago
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Woman shot dead in N.Ireland in ‘terrorist incident’

  • A car-bombing and the hijacking of two vans in Londonderry earlier this year were blamed on a dissident paramilitary group
  • A 1998 peace deal largely brought an end to three decades of bloodshed in Northern Ireland between republican and unionist paramilitaries

LONDON: A woman has been shot dead during riots in the city of Londonderry in Northern Ireland and the killing is being treated as a terrorist incident, police said Friday.
Images posted on social media showed a car and van ablaze and hooded individuals throwing petrol bombs and fireworks at police vehicles.
It was not immediately clear who the woman was or who shot her.
“Sadly I can confirm that following shots being fired tonight in Creggan, a 29-year-old woman has been killed,” Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said in a statement on Twitter.
“We are treating this as a terrorist incident and we have launched a murder enquiry.”
The violence came in the run-up to the Easter weekend, when Republicans opposed to British presence in Northern Ireland mark the anniversary of a 1916 uprising against British rule.
A car-bombing and the hijacking of two vans in Londonderry (also known as Derry) earlier this year were blamed on a dissident paramilitary group.
Arlene Foster, leader of the Democratic Union Party, which is in favor of Britain’s presence in Northern Ireland, described the death as “heartbreaking news.”
“A senseless act. A family has been torn apart. Those who brought guns onto our streets in the 70s, 80s & 90s were wrong. It is equally wrong in 2019. No one wants to go back,” she wrote on Twitter.
A 1998 peace deal largely brought an end to three decades of sectarian bloodshed in Northern Ireland between republican and unionist paramilitaries, as well as British armed forces, in a period known as “the Troubles.”
Some 3,500 people were killed in the conflict — many at the hands of the Irish Republican Army (IRA).
Police have blamed a group called the New IRA for the flare-up in violence in recent months.
Some have expressed fears that recent attacks could be a sign that paramilitaries are seeking to exploit the current political turbulence over Northern Ireland and its border with the Republic of Ireland caused by Brexit.
Michelle O’Neill, the deputy leader of Irish republican party Sinn Fein, condemned those responsible for the killing.
“My heart goes out to the family of the young woman shot dead by so-called dissidents,” she wrote on Twitter.
“This was an attack on the community, an attack on the peace process and an attack on the Good Friday Agreement,” she added, while calling for calm.
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