India cities dominate world air pollution list

Buildings enveloped in a thick blanket of smog in Noida

Buildings enveloped in a thick blanket of smog in Noida

The global standards of air pollution says that index value of 0-50 (micrograms per cubic metre air) is excellent, 51-100 is good, 101-150 is lightly polluted.

Kanpur, a northern city on the banks of the Yamuna River, recorded an annual average PM2.5 level of 173 micrograms per cubic meter, several times higher than the World Health Organization recommendation of no more than 10 mcg per cubic meter.

Waste burning and deforestation are additional sources of air pollution, as are sand and desert dust, the agency says.

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In terms of PM10 levels, eight cities in India figured among the 20 most-polluted cities of the world in 2016.

Over the past two decades nearly, the average level of PM2.5 - pollutants that can penetrate deep inside the lungs - in Delhi has remained more than two times above the annual permissible limits, says a new study by researchers from Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi and TERI.

As an indicator of why this constitutes a major public health emergency, consider that WHO has further pointed to air pollution being a main cause of non-communicable diseases, causing around 24% of all adult deaths from heart disease, 25% from stroke, 43% from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and 25% from lung cancer. It is reporting improvements in air quality thanks to focused policies combined with strict nationwide enforcement, including source-wise action to reduce emissions. The combined effects of household air pollution and ambient air pollution become increasingly hard to address if not tackled early, Poonam Khetrapal Singh, regional director, WHO Southeast Asia, said.

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The WHO report said the other Indian cities that registered very high PM2.5 levels and constituted the top 14 were Kanpur, Faridabad, Gaya, Patna, Agra, Muzaffarpur, Srinagar, Gurgaon, Jaipur, Patiala and Jodhpur. Closely followed behind Port Talbot was Scunthorpe, Salford and Sandy all three of which had levels of 15 micrograms per cubic metre. Therefore, even PM 10 levels have come down in the year 2017 against 2016. London broke its annual air quality guidelines in a single month this year, beating 2017 when the city broke its limits within just five days. A non-attainment area is an area considered to have air quality worse than the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. Subsequently, out of 94 non-attainment cities, action plans for 61 cities have already been received and concerned States have been requested to steer implementation of action plans in these cities.

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