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Seven of the world’s 10 most polluted cities are in India; Gurugram is No 1, says report

Agencies New Delhi | Updated on March 05, 2019 Published on March 05, 2019

Seven of the top 10 most polluted cities in the world are in India, according to a new study showing South Asia’s battle with deteriorating air quality and the economic toll it is expected to take worldwide.

Gurugram led all cities in pollution levels in 2018, even as its score improved from the previous year, according to data released by IQAir AirVisual and Greenpeace. Three other Indian cities joined Faisalabad, Pakistan, in the top five.

The index measures the presence of fine particulate matter known as PM2.5, a pollutant that can fester deep in the lungs and bloodstream of human beings.

“This has enormous impacts, on our health and on our wallets,” Yeb Sano, Executive Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said in a statement released with the figures. “In addition to human lives lost, there’s an estimated cost of $225 billion in lost labour, and trillions in medical costs.”

India, the world’s fastest-growing major economy, makes up 22 of the top 30 most polluted cities, with five in China, two in Pakistan and one in Bangladesh. India racks up healthcare costs and productivity losses from pollution of as much as 8.5 per cent of GDP, according to the World Bank.

China makes progress

China made marked progress in its usually dismal pollution levels, with average concentrations falling by 12 per cent in 2018 from the previous year, according to the data.

Sano traced much of the problematic readings to climate change. He noted that burning fossil fuels is both the key driver of climate change and of air pollution, and that shifting atmospheric conditions have worsened air quality and amplified forest fires.

Global issue

While South Asian countries are the worst affected, air pollution is a global issue. Of the 3,000 cities measured in the report, 64 per cent exceeded the WHO’s annual exposure guidelines for PM2.5.

Every city from West Asia and Africa included in the report exceeded WHO guidelines for PM2.5, as did 99 per cent of cities in South Asia, 95 per cent in South-East Asia, and 89 per cent in East Asia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published on March 05, 2019
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