WHO released a study on air pollution yesterday ranking cities based on the toxic air quality.

India dominates the list with 14 cities amongst the 20 most polluted cities in the world.

The study was a survey of over 4,300 cities from all around the globe based on the annual average of 2016 for air pollution. Air pollution has to be controlled to sustain a healthy environment. Effective and urgent action has to be taken to clean up the air we breathe.

The Cities:

All the 20 cities on the list are exclusively from Africa and Asia.

Kanpur tops the list as the most polluted city followed by Faridabad, Varanasi, Gaya, Patna, Delhi, Lucknow, Agra, Muzaffarpur, Srinagar, Gurgaon, Jaipur, Patiala, and Jodhpur in that order.

The cities from the north have dominated the list and that is a serious cause for concern. The other cities that have made it into the top are Bamenda (Cameroon), Peshawar (Pakistan), Rawalpindi (Pakistan), Kampala (Uganda), Narayangonj (Bangladesh) and Doha (Qatar).

34% of the deaths caused due to air pollution all over the world are from Southeast Asia.

Again on the wrong side:

India has not fared any better in the previous surveys. 7 cities of the 10 most polluted cities in the previous study were of India. The cities from other countries which were in the top 10 most polluted city list last year were not found anywhere in the top 20 this time around.

Last year in November, the pollution in Delhi was so high that a public health emergency had to be declared in due to toxic smog. Bangalore is not on this particular list as the study is more focused on air pollution.

However, pollution in Bangalore is reaching skywards. In February ‘Bellandur’ lake had caught on fire due to rise in other forms of pollution. Action has to be taken now because if things continue the same way, experts fear that Bangalore might become uninhabitable by the year 2025.

India is still a developing country. Pollution is a by-product of development. However, it cannot be used as an excuse as Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Gujrat are the most industrialised states and their names have not made it in.

Related: Unlivable Indian Cities: After Bangalore These Other Cities Don’t Seem Too Far

These rankings were based on density particulate matter in the atmosphere having a diameter less than 2.5 micrometres. Also referred as PM 2.5.

Why is PM 2.5 so harmful?:

PM 2.5 are the tiny particles floating in our air which comprise of the dust in the atmosphere, coal particles from power plants, industries, home heaters as well as car exhaust and also comprise of Pollen from plants. The PM 2.5 particles are of the most concern as they can enter our bloodstreams.

Breathing in such micro-particles causes non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases, and even lung cancer.

7 million people each year die due to breathing polluted air. 90% of the deaths due to air pollution occurs in low to medium income countries in Asia and Africa.

A lot of households still depend upon using pollutant stoves (chulha) for making their daily meals it’s not surprising that 1 million out of those deaths are based in India.

9 out of 10 people in the world breathe air with a high level of pollutant.

Step Towards Progress:

India is, however, making strides in the right direction. The WHO report mentioned that countries are taking step towards reducing air pollution and cited out India’s ‘Pradhan Mantri Ujjwal Yojana’.

The scheme which was launched on 1st May 2016, has provided more than 37 million households living below poverty line with free LPG lines. They have covered over 712 districts. A great achievement just under two years.

The ‘Pradhan Mantri Ujjwal Yojana’ plans on taking this number to 80 million by the end of 2020. Although just an estimate, it is a big step towards curbing the air pollution and air pollution causing deaths in India.

Also not to forget the introduction of Odd and Even system in Delhi was a success. In addition to that, the National Green Tribunal has restricted the industrial activities and also burning waste in Delhi.

Air pollution is not limited by boundaries, it is our responsibility to make sure that we do our part as much as we can in the fight against any kind of pollution. Let us hope for better numbers next year.

Image Credits: Google Images

Sources: BBC, Times of India, Indian Express + more

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