New Delhi under dangerous cloud of smog

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The worst air pollution in New Delhi in nearly 20 years is aggravated by smoke from burning crop residue in surrounding states, a practice that's technically illegal.

But traffic pollution is the main culprit, plus fireworks from a recent festival, construction dust and cold weather over the last two weeks.

All pushing polluting air particle levels to up to thirty times the safe levels set by the World Health Organization.

See more of the smog crisis:

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India experiencing worst smog in decades
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India experiencing worst smog in decades

Girls play with a balloon under a flyover amidst the heavy smog in New Delhi, India, November 6, 2016.

(REUTERS/Adnan Abidi)

An Indian boy wears a pollution mask as he participates in a protest against air pollution in New Delhi, India, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016. Even for a city considered one of the worlds dirtiest, the Indian capital hit a new low this week. Air so dirty you can taste and smell it; a gray haze that makes a gentle stroll a serious health hazard. According to one advocacy group, government data shows that the smog that enveloped the city midweek was the worst in the last 17 years.

(AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Security personnel stand guard in front of the India Gate amidst the heavy smog in New Delhi, India, October 31, 2016.

(REUTERS/Adnan Abidi)

A boy sits on the shoulder of his mother as they participate in a protest against air pollution in New Delhi, India, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016. Even for a city considered one of the worlds dirtiest, the Indian capital hit a new low this week. Air so dirty you can taste and smell it; a gray haze that makes a gentle stroll a serious health hazard. According to one advocacy group, government data shows that the smog that enveloped the city midweek was the worst in the last 17 years.

(AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

NEW DELHI, INDIA - NOVEMBER 6: People doing their routine work in the polluted and foggy morning as smog covers the capital's skyline, on November 6, 2016 in New Delhi, India. New Delhi's air quality has steadily worsened over the years, a consequence of rapid urbanisation that brings pollution from diesel engines, coal-fired power plants and industrial emissions. The air quality continued to remain alarming in Delhi-NCR because of calm winds. People living in Delhi-NCR complained about respiratory problems and itching in the eyes due to smog all over the region.

(Photo by Sanjeev Verma/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

People walk inside the Ambedkar Memorial Park amidst heavy smog in Lucknow, India, November 7, 2016.

(REUTERS/Pawan Kumar)

People wear pollution masks during the protest march for 'Your Right To Breathe' at Jantar Mantar, on November 6, 2016 in New Delhi, India. New Delhi's air quality has steadily worsened over the years, a consequence of rapid urbanisation that brings pollution from diesel engines, coal-fired power plants and industrial emissions. Several schools cancelled outdoor activity for the students due to the smog.

(Photo by Virendra Singh Gosain/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

A family on a motorcycle wait at a crossing amidst smoke and smog in New Delhi, India, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016. The Delhi government has ordered that all city schools be shut, construction activity halted and all roads be doused with water as crippling air pollution has engulfed the Indian capital. The city, one of the world's dirtiest, has seen the levels of PM2.5 soar to over 900 microgram per cubic meter on Saturday, more than 90 times the level considered safe by the World Health Organization and 15 times the Indian government's norms.

(AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

People wear pollution masks during the protest march for 'Your Right To Breathe' at Jantar Mantar, on November 6, 2016 in New Delhi, India. New Delhi's air quality has steadily worsened over the years, a consequence of rapid urbanisation that brings pollution from diesel engines, coal-fired power plants and industrial emissions. Several schools cancelled outdoor activity for the students due to the smog.

(Photo by Virendra Singh Gosain/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

A group of Indian women wear pollution masks arrive to a protest against air pollution in New Delhi, India, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016. Even for a city considered one of the worlds dirtiest, the Indian capital hit a new low this week. Air so dirty you can taste and smell it; a gray haze that makes a gentle stroll a serious health hazard. According to one advocacy group, government data shows that the smog that enveloped the city midweek was the worst in the last 17 years. The concentration of PM2.5, tiny particulate pollution that can clog lungs, averaged 12 times the government norm and a whopping 70 times the WHO standards.

(AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

NEW DELHI, INDIA - NOVEMBER 7: A man walking on railway track as smog engulfed the capital amidst high levels of pollution on November 7, 2016 in New Delhi, India. A million school children were forced to stay at home, some businesses urged employees not to come to work and long queues formed outside shops selling face masks on Monday as New Delhi struggled with its worst pollution for nearly 20 years.

(Photo by Sanchit Khanna/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

School students living at Mayur Vihar Phase III studying in Noida waiting for school bus as all school were closed till 10th of November due to heavy smog on November 7, 2016 in New Delhi, India. A million school children were forced to stay at home, some businesses urged employees not to come to work and long queues formed outside shops selling face masks on Monday as New Delhi struggled with its worst pollution for nearly 20 years.

(Photo by Mohd Zakir/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

People walk through haze at an industrial area in Mumbai December 3, 2009. India will not accept a legally binding emission cut nor a peak year of carbon emissions at the global climate talks in Copenhagen, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said on Thursday.

(REUTERS/Arko Datta/INDIA ENVIRONMENT SOCIETY)

Traffic drives through smog in Delhi, India November 7, 2016.

(REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton)

A man walks in a pond on a smoggy morning in New Delhi, India, October 31, 2016.

(REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton)

A Hindu devotee worships the Sun god amidst heavy smog at a pond during Chhath Puja in New Delhi, India November 6, 2016.

(REUTERS/Adnan Abidi)

School children wear masks to protect themselves from the toxic Delhi - NCR air at Mayur Vihar phase III, on November 7, 2016 in New Delhi, India. A million school children were forced to stay at home, some businesses urged employees not to come to work and long queues formed outside shops selling face masks on Monday as New Delhi struggled with its worst pollution for nearly 20 years.

(Photo by Mohd Zakir/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

An Indian youngster wears a mask as he stands at the India Gate monument whilst heavy smog covers New Delhi on November 7, 2016. Schools in the Indian capital will be closed for the next three days, the Delhi state government said on November 6, as the city struggles with one of the worst spells of air pollution in recent years.

(AJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP/Getty Images)

People play in a foggy morning at India Gate as smog covers the capital's skyline, on November 6, 2016 in New Delhi, India. New Delhi's air quality has steadily worsened over the years, a consequence of rapid urbanisation that brings pollution from diesel engines, coal-fired power plants and industrial emissions. The air quality continued to remain alarming in Delhi-NCR because of calm winds. People living in Delhi-NCR complained about respiratory problems and itching in the eyes due to smog all over the region.

(Photo by Ravi Choudhary/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

An Indian man rides a motorbike on a road as heavy smog covers New Delhi on November 7, 2016. Schools in the Indian capital will be closed for the next three days, the Delhi state government said on November 6, as the city struggles with one of the worst spells of air pollution in recent years.

(SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP/Getty Images)

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Residents say they can't breathe and everyone's scrambling to buy face masks.

But children are among the worst hit.

One children's hospital reported cases of respiratory spasms, aggravated asthma, pneumonia and bronchitis.

"My eyes burn and I cough that's why my parents have asked me to wear masks as there's pollution," said one child.

On Monday, a million school kids stayed home and up to one in ten employees in the area reported sick.

Local officials are deciding whether to bring back a scheme to reduce traffic.

Meanwhile, India's top court has agreed to hear a petition from an environmentalist to tell the government to take action.

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