Story highlights

Some parts of Delhi record air quality index of 999

City has instituted emergency measures to tackle smog

CNN  — 

Fresh air doesn’t exist in New Delhi at the moment.

India’s capital is choking under off-the-charts smog, with some parts of the city reporting levels almost five times those considered “unhealthy” by the US environmental protection agency.

Measurements taken at the US Embassy in Delhi put the city’s Air Quality Index at 999 on Monday, off the standard chart, which finishes at the “hazardous” level of 500.

By comparison, the highest AQI level recorded Monday in BaodingChina’s most polluted city – was 298.

Beijing was a pleasant 30, while India’s next most polluted city, coal and industry-heavy Chandrapur, recorded levels of 824, according to the World Air Quality Index.

Research released earlier this year found that air quality levels exceed World Health Organizations guidelines for 80% of those living in urban areas around the world.

Protests and pollution masks

In Khan Market, one of Delhi’s trendiest areas, shops that specialized in anti-pollution masks were doing brisk business as people queued up to buy some modicum of protection from the toxic smog.

The battle to buy smog masks in India’s pollution capital

On Sunday, hundreds of people gathered to protest outside Parliament in the city center as others voiced their displeasure online, posting to Twitter with the slogan #MyRightToBreathe.

Death by pollution: Delhi’s fight for clean air

An emergency ruling issued over the weekend saw more than 5,000 schools closed and construction work halted for the next three days. Officials warned that the number of vehicles allowed on the streets may be restricted if the situation does not improve.

CNN’s Rishi Iyengar contributed reporting from New Delhi