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World's most polluted capital cities revealed as Delhi is ranked worst

06 March 2019
World's most polluted capital cities revealed as Delhi is ranked worst

Asia has dominated a new list of the world's most polluted cities of 2018.

"We want this report to make people think about the air we breathe, because when we understand the impacts of air quality on our lives, we will act to protect what's most important".

Broadening the study to 3,000 cities located all around the world, they found that the worst offenders were in India and China.

Air pollution, both outside and inside homes, is a silent and prolific killer responsible behind the premature death of seven million people each year, including 6,00,000 children, says David Boyd, a United Nations expert on environment and human rights.

"Air pollution steals our livelihoods and our futures", said Yeb Sano, executive director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

PM2.5, or particles of 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter, is so unsafe because it lodges deep in the lungs. It also misrepresented the EPA's Air Quality Index.

Lucknow. Image source
Lucknow. Image source

"In mainland China, in particular, this has led to significant improvements in year-on-year reductions in PM2.5 levels", the groups said in their joint study.

Out of 50 cities that have the poorest air quality, 25 Indian cities are in the list with Gurugram being number one, as per a report by Greenpeace and AirVisual. "Common contributors of pollutants in South Asia include vehicle exhaust, open crop and biomass burning, industrial emissions and coal combustion", explains the report.

Lavakare said the NCAP, which aims to cut concentrations of PM2.5 and PM10 (larger particulate matter) throughout the country between 20-30 percent by 2024, was a "reactive" attempt to clean up India's air and called on New Delhi to take a more "proactive approach". This indicates that the air pollution in our cities has not come down over the years, despite many mitigative actions from local governments.

Gurugram, in Haryana, topped the list with an average annual particulate matter (PM 2.5) quality of 135 g/m3 (micrograms/cubic metre), in 2018.

"The report is a reminder to us indicating that our efforts and actions to reduce the invisible killer, i.e., air pollution, are not enough and we need to do much more than already planned and done", said Pujarini Sen of Greenpeace India.