Please Do Not Spoil the Taj Mahal

AGRA, India — It’s always heartening to see signs urging visitors to be mindful of whatever tourist attraction they’re visiting — and the Taj Mahal is no different.

“Please do not spoil the monument,” reads a sign near the red sandstone building that houses the restrooms.

Yet the protections go beyond a simple sign.

Researchers conducting a year-long study found that pollutants are endangering the white marble walls of the Mughal masterpiece of architecture. Researchers also placed pristine stone samples in the vicinity of the Taj, finding harmful results after just two months.

The Times of India writes:

The pollutants deposited on the marble were identified through these investigations. Researchers found 3% of the deposits to be black carbon, around 30% organic carbon (or brown carbon) and most of the rest dust. Black carbon is emitted by vehicles and other machines that burn fossil fuels. Brown carbon is typically released through burning of biomass and garbage, a common practice in the region.

While measures have been put in place to address the pollution issue — for instance, motor vehicles aren’t allowed within 500 meters of the monument — there are fears that it’s not enough to counteract the damage that’s being done. At least for now camel taxis will help somewhat.

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