India dominates the list of the countries with a maximum number of cities having worst air quality. India’s Delhi ranked the most polluted capital of the World including twenty-two other cities out of 30 worst cities for air pollution in the world.
In developing nations like India, air pollution is getting worse as almost half of the top 50 most polluted cities in the world are in India. However, in some developed countries, the situation is getting better.
Air pollution readings from 3,000 cities worldwide included in the Greenpeace and AirVisual analysis indicated 64% cases where the situation exceeds the guideline for PM2.5 fine particulate matter described under the World Health Organization’s annual exposure.
PM2.5 fine particulate matter is the tiny airborne particles, around a 40th of the width of a human hair causing a wide range of health issues like Kidney related disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, congenital disabilities, rapid aging, and child health problems.
When it comes to life, nothing is more vital than breathing, and in our lifetime, about 250m liters of air passes through our lungs. However, when the air becomes toxic, it is responsible for one in nine of all fatalities leading to early death. Dr. Maria Neira, the World Health Organisation director with responsibility for air pollution, is blunt: “It is a global public health emergency.”
According to the author of the report, the actual number of cities those exceed PM2.5 thresholds is expected to be much higher as many cities, particularly in Africa, do not possess up-to-date information on public air quality. Every single city measured for the purpose exceeds the WHO guidelines especially in the Middle East and Africa, and it reached 99% in the case of cities in South Asia and 89% in East Asia.
This report is prepared from 2018 air quality data from public monitoring sources like government monitoring networks, supplemented with the private individuals and organizations operated validated data from outdoor IQAir AirVisual monitors.
Gurugram, previously known as Gurgaon, a city and a tech hub just to the south-west of Delhi ranked the world’s most polluted city with an average of more than 135.8 micrograms of PM2.5 per cubic meter (µg/m3) throughout the year. The international firms including Uber and TripAdvisor have headquarters here. Delhi ranked 11th.
In Pakistan, Faisalabad ranked third with 130 (µg/m3), and Lahore 10th with 115 (µg/m3). The Bangladesh capital, Dhaka ranked 17th. China which appears five times in the list is another country that featured in top 30 including Hotan in 8th place in the western Xinjiang province, and the ancient Silk Road city of Kashgar in 19th place.
Delhi, Dhaka, and Afganistan’s Kabul are the highest-ranking capital cities. Amongst the European cities, the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, is the most polluted with an annual average of 38.4 µg/m3. London with 12.0 µg/m3 is holding 48th place in the list of most polluted capital while Washington DC ranked 56th with 9.2 µg/m3.
“Air pollution steals our livelihoods and our futures, but we can change that,” said Yeb Saño, Executive Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia. “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.”
Air pollution also affects rich nations. “The trends are positive if we look at the last 50 years, but it depends how many deaths are you ready to accept,” says Neira. “We still have 500,000 deaths in Europe [per year] and this is totally unacceptable.