DELHI's roads display a sign of what's to come -- traffic police wearing gas masks. Police officials decided to issue the masks to give traffic constables some respite from the extremely high pollution at 40 major intersections. The masks are supposed to be especially useful to Delhi police, because the Capital's air is rated the foulest. Police reaction, however, has been lukewarm at best and most wear the masks only during the rush hours. "We find these masks suffocating and, anyhow, they do not keep out fumes, only the dust", said one constable. The masks reportedly do not afford protection against anything except dust and grime and actually let through the more dangerous gases such as nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide. Furthermore, the masks are in short supply and as the masks cover their mouths, the guardians of traffic cannot blow their whistle at an errant pedestrian or motorist. Deputy Commissioner of Police Maxwell Pereira told Down To Earth these problem would be taken into account before extending the gas-mask scheme to all intersections.
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