Gasping for Clean Air: India Suffers with 39 of the World's Most Polluted Cities in the country
IQAir just released the World Air Quality Report 2022 and India has made it to the headlines yet again with Delhi ranking as the second most polluted city globally after N’Djamena, Chad. The report measured the global PM2.5 concentration in 2022 and here are the highlights:
- Air pollution continues to be a major global problem, with over 90% of the world's population breathing air that does not meet WHO air quality guidelines.
- India remains the country with the worst air quality, followed by China and Pakistan.
- India's annual average PM2.5 level in 2022 was 53.3 μg/m3, slightly lower than 2021
- In 2021 and 2022, 12 of the 15 most polluted cities in Central and South Asia were in India.
- India has 39 of the world's 50 most polluted cities, with Delhi being ranked as the world's second most polluted capital city for the fourth consecutive year.
- The report states that the levels of fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) in India are several times higher than the World Health Organization's guidelines, putting people at increased risk of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.
- Bhiwadi was the most polluted city with annual PM2.5 levels of 92.7 μg/m3.
- Roughly 60% of cities in India included in the report experienced annual PM2.5 levels of at least 7 times higher than the WHO guideline.
- Air pollution is the second biggest risk factor for disease and estimated to cost over $150 billion annually.
- Transportation sector contributes 20-35% to PM2.5 in Indian cities.
- National Clean Air Program (NCAP) updated in 2022 with a new target of 40% reduction in PM concentration by 2026.
- Stubble (crop) burning is an important challenge, particularly in Delhi and North India
- Relaxed environmental compliance rules for coal mines in 2022 led to increased production.
- Lack of a national emissions inventory makes it difficult to track progress of reduction strategies and monitor progress of emissions-lowering initiatives.
The 2022 World Air Quality Report by IQAir once again brings attention to the serious problem of air pollution across the globe, with India remaining as the country with the worst air quality. The report highlights that the levels of fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) in India are several times higher than the World Health Organization's guidelines, putting people at increased risk of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. While India has taken steps to address air pollution through initiatives like the National Clean Air Program, the report also emphasizes the urgent need for further action, such as transitioning to cleaner energy sources, improving public transportation, and promoting sustainable urban development and deploying green technologies in ambient air pollution control. It is important to address this issue effectively as air pollution is the second biggest risk factor for disease and estimated to cost over $150 billion annually.