Delhi worst capital in terms of air quality: Report

Bihar’s Begusarai has emerged as the world’s most polluted metropolitan area. Additionally, Delhi has once again been designated as the capital city with the poorest air quality, as per the latest report by the World Air Quality Report 2023 released by the Swiss organization IQAir.

Begusarai, boasting an average PM2.5 concentration of 118.9 micrograms per cubic meter, has surpassed all other metropolitan areas this year, despite its absence from the previous year’s rankings.

The report underscores India’s ranking as the third-highest in air pollution levels among 134 countries, following Bangladesh and Pakistan. This marks a significant shift from 2022 when India stood at eighth place globally in terms of air pollution.

Delhi’s PM2.5 levels have also worsened from 89.1 to 92.7 micrograms per cubic meter in 2023. The capital has retained the title of the most polluted capital city for the fourth consecutive year since 2018.

The report highlights that a substantial portion of India’s population, approximately 1.36 billion people, are exposed to PM2.5 levels exceeding the WHO guideline of 5 micrograms per cubic meter. Moreover, 1.33 billion individuals, equivalent to 96 percent of the Indian population, are grappling with PM2.5 levels surpassing the WHO standard by seven times.

This concerning trend is observable at the city level, with over 66 percent of Indian cities reporting annual averages above 35 micrograms per cubic meter.

The data for this report was compiled from a comprehensive network of air quality monitoring stations and sensors worldwide, involving various institutions, organizations, and citizen scientists. The 2023 report has expanded its coverage to encompass 7,812 locations in 134 countries, compared to 7,323 locations in 131 countries in 2022.

Air pollution remains a critical global issue, contributing to approximately one in nine deaths worldwide, according to the report.

The World Health Organization estimates that air pollution leads to seven million premature deaths annually, impacting individuals with various health conditions such as asthma, cancer, stroke, and lung disease. Exposure to high levels of PM2.5 pollution can also affect children’s cognitive development, mental health, and exacerbate existing illnesses like diabetes.

(Inputs from PTI)

William Murphy

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