9 out of top 10 most polluted cities in India: 2020 World Air Quality Report – Know Key Highlights

2020 World Air Quality Report: India accounts for 46 of the world’s 100 most polluted cities. Know key highlights, challenges, and progress of India’s air quality.

Created On: Nov 23, 2021 17:46 IST
2020 World Air Quality Report: New Delhi world's most polluted capital; Image: PTI
2020 World Air Quality Report: New Delhi world's most polluted capital; Image: PTI

Nine out of the top 10 most polluted cities are in India, stated air quality tracker IQAir. In 2020, India accounted for 46 of the world’s 100 most polluted cities followed by China (42 cities), Pakistan (6 cities), Bangladesh (4 cities), Indonesia (1 city), and Thailand (1 city). All these cities reported a PM2.5 air-quality rating of over 50. Hotan in China’s Xinjiang reported the worst air quality average at 110.2 in 2020. Air pollution presents one of the world’s biggest health hazards causing about 7 million premature deaths annually including 6 lakh children. Air pollution is expected to cost the global economy upwards of $2.9 trillion per year (3.3 per cent of global Gross Domestic Product) due to emissions from fossil fuel burning alone.

Also read: Delhi govt to launch Anti-Open Burning Campaign from November 11 – Know Key Details

2020 World Air Quality Report: India accounts for 46 of the world’s 100 most polluted cities

Key Highlights

The Swiss-based air quality technology company IQAir in its 2020 World Air Quality Report stated that 9 out of the top 10 most polluted cities are in India. All these cities reported a PM2.5 air-quality rating of over 50. These 9 cities are Ghaziabad, Bulandshahr, Bisrakh Jalalpur, Bhiwadi, Noida, Greater Noida, Kanpur, Lucknow, and Delhi.

The report stated that New Delhi was the world's most polluted capital for the third straight year in 2020. It is estimated that 20 to 40 per cent of Delhi’s air pollution comes from agricultural burning in and around the national capital. During the peak burning season, Delhi witnessed average PM2.5 levels of 11 μg/m³ in November 2020 and 157 μg/m³ in December 2020. These numbers were found to be 14 times more than the WHO’s annual exposure guideline.

Challenges

Air pollution in India still remains dangerously high despite widespread air quality improvements between 2019 and 2020. With 22 of the top 30 most polluted cities globally found in India, the country continues to stay on top of alarming annual PM2.5 rankings by city.

Coal remains a major domestic source of India’s energy supply adding to air pollution. Other significant sources of India’s air pollution are biomass burning, waste burning, agricultural burning, stubble burning, construction, transportation.

Progress

The report stated that India has shown overall progress in several cities with 63 per cent reporting direct improvements over 2019 averages. All cities that reported an increase in pollution levels in 2020 are still reflecting an overall downward trend from 2018 and earlier averages. India’s National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) launched in January 2019 is marginally attributed for the progress. The NCAP aims to target PM2.5 reductions between 20 to 30 per cent in 122 selected cities by 2024 from a 2017 baseline.

Also read: What is a 10-point action plan against air pollution announced by Delhi Government?

Also read: UP’s first anti-air pollution tower inaugurated in Noida- All you need to know!

Top 10 most polluted cities in India; Source: 2020 World Air Quality Report

Top 10 most polluted cities in India; Source: 2020 World Air Quality Report

2020 World Air Quality Report: About

The 2020 World Air Quality Report analyses PM2.5 data gathered by ground-level monitoring stations around the world. The report includes data for 106 countries, up from 98 countries in 2019 and 69 countries in 2018.

Why PM2.5?

Among criteria pollutants commonly measured in real-time, fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is currently understood. PM2.5 is defined as ambient airborne particulates that measure up to 2.5 microns in size. The most common human-made sources include fossil-fuel-powered motor vehicles, power generation, industrial activity, agriculture, and biomass burning. As per WHO Air Quality Guideline, the annual exposure of PM2.5 below 10 μg/m³ minimizes risks.

How is air quality determined?

Air quality is determined by the levels of air pollut­ants PM2.5, PM10, ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and carbon monoxide.

Also read: WHO’s new Air Quality Norms: Almost entire India termed as Polluted as per new rules - Know Details Here

Also read: Air Pollution could cut life expectancy in North India by 9 years, in two states by additional 2.5 years: Study

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