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India gasps for clean air as pollution chokes cities

India gasps for clean air as pollution chokes cities
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India has once again topped the annual list of cities with the worst air quality in the world, according to a new report, while Chinese cities have...

India has once again topped the annual list of cities with the worst air quality in the world, according to a new report, while Chinese cities have continued to show improvements from the previous year. This report comes amidst coronavirus fear dominating the globe.

This could be the latest threat to our lives but is nothing compared to the air pollution as this silent killer is contributing to nearly 7 million deaths a year! Yes, let us all fight coronavirus, but do we want to die of air pollution?

Doesn't it merit our attention? Twenty-one of the world's 30 cities with the worst air pollution are in India, according to data compiled in IQAir AirVisual's 2019 World Air Quality Report, with six in the top ten. Ghaziabad, a satellite city of the capital New Delhi, is ranked as the world's most polluted city, with an average PM 2.5 concentration measurement of 110.2 in 2019.

That is far more than the level which the US Environmental Protection Agency regards as healthy – it is nine times more. Researchers from IQAir - a global air quality information and tech company - gleaned data for the report from on the ground monitoring stations that measure levels of fine particulate matter, known as PM 2.5, per cubic meter.

The study measured the concentration of poisonous PM 2.5, particles that can be carried deep into the lungs, as higher PM 2.5 levels could cause deadly diseases, including cancer and cardiac problems. PM 2.5 includes pollutants such as sulphate, nitrates and black carbon.

In 2019, New Delhi's average annual concentration of PM 2.5 in a cubic meter of air was 98.6, the study said, more than double the level of Beijing, which averaged 42.1 during the year, making it the ninth most polluted city and the most polluted capital city in the world.

Beijing has more than halved its annual PM 2.5 levels over the past decade and has dropped out of the world's 200 most polluted cities following concerted efforts to get air pollution under control.

Chinese cities have overall seen marked improvements in recent years, with average concentrations of pollutants falling 9% from 2018 to 2019, according to the report.

However, 98 % of Chinese cities still exceeded WHO guidelines and 47 features among the top 100 most polluted cities in the 2019 World Air Quality Report. Dust and sandstorms in the desert city of Hotan, in western China's Xinjiang region, make it the world's second most polluted city in 2019, with an average AQI of 110.1.

New Delhi's toxic air is caused by vehicle and industrial emissions, dust from building sites, smoke from the burning of rubbish and crop residue in nearby fields. (It is a different issue that people get killed in communal rights too).

Last year, residents of New Delhi, home to more than 20 million people, could breathe "moderate" to "satisfactory" air only for four days in November and December, when pollution levels peaked.

A major factor for the negligence of governments is polluted politics. Just to prove the others wrong, all kind of dirty games are played in Delhi. Could we ever breath clean air?

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