In November 2019, the Supreme Court of India issued a notification to all the states in the National Capital Region of Delhi to install smog towers for clean air and allocated INR 36 crores (~USD 5.2 million) for a pilot. Can we vacuum our air pollution problem using smog towers? The short answer is “no”. Atmospheric science defines the air pollution problem as (a) a dynamic situation where the air is moving at various speeds with no boundaries and (b) a complex mixture of chemical compounds constantly forming and transforming into other compounds. With no boundaries, it is unscientific to assume that one can trap air, clean it, and release into the same atmosphere simultaneously. In this paper, we outline the basics of atmospheric science to describe why the idea of vacuuming outdoor air pollution is unrealistic, and the long view on air quality management in Indian cities.
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