WHO: Delhi is world’s second most polluted city

New Delhi, September 3: As India signs Paris Pact to fight global warming and control green house gasses emission, the World Health Organisation in its latest report has found that Delhi NCR is the second most polluted city in the world after Saudi Arabian city Riyadh.

India’s capital was the only megacity to record a PM10 level, above 200 µg/m³ in the world as per the WHO report. The other mega cities in the world performed better as Cairo recorded air with 179 µg/m³, Dhaka recorded 158 µg/m³ and Chinese cities of Beijing and Shanghai reported air pollution levels at 108 and 84 µg/m³ respectively.

So the national capital basically performed very badly by exceeding the WHO air quality standard of 20 µg/m³ by more than 900 per cent.

The level PM10 means air has particles between 2.5 and 10 micrometers that are primarily made up of number of sources which is even more dangerous for those inhaling the air. The Delhi air PM10 comprise of dirt and dust particles from farming, factories, road work, rocks and soil.

In the latest report from India spend, just a week ago from September 22 to 28, 2016, pollutants (fine-particulate-matter, PM2.5) in Delhi air were almost four times higher the safe levels for breathing. For a long-term exposure to these air standards, it is nearly 11 times above the WHO safe standards.

The levels also indicate that prolonged exposure could seriously affect the health of normal people and those who are already unhealthy would face even worse impact from breathing in such polluted air.

Most death due to air-pollution are caused by fine, invisible particles PM2.5 as they are about 30 times finer than a human hair. These pollutants, if inhaled deep into the lungs, can cause severe health issues such as heart attacks, strokes, lung cancer and respiratory diseases. Their measurement is considered to be the best indicator of the level of health risks from air pollution, according to the WHO.

Within India, the smaller cities of Gwalior and Allahabad measured the worst levels of ambient air pollution at PM2.5 levels of 176 µg/m³ and 170 µg/m³ respectively. A significant portion of northern India falls in a zone with critical air pollution as these cities reported PM2.5 levels of over 70 µg/m³ in the WHO’s mapping of air pollution and population.

Even Kolkata and Mumbai recorded PM10 levels of 135 µg/m³ and 117 µg/m³ respectively. The levels were worse than the biggest Chinese cities. The WHO guideline for annual mean levels for PM10 is 20 µg/m³ and for PM2.5 is 10 µg/m³. For 24 hours, the levels should not exceed 50 µg/m³ (for PM10) and 25 µg/m³ (for PM2.5).

The WHO sourced its data on India’s air pollution from the Central Pollution Control Board, Environmental Data Bank. And its new air-quality model confirms that 92 per cent of the world’s population lives in places where air quality levels exceed WHO limits.

Wefornews Bureau/IANS

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