Mon. Dec 6th, 2021

Of the world’s 100 most polluted cities, 94 are in India, China and Pakistan.

Every year, a dense smog covers India’s capital, New Delhi. Last week it got so bad for the 20 million inhabitants that authorities schools closed.

New Delhi’s concentration of PM2.5 particles, which damage people’s lungs, is 34 times the World Health Organization’s (WHO) acceptable levels. The toxic haze is especially severe during the winter as farmers burn stubble left in their fields.

How is air quality measured?

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

Particles (PM) consist of small particles that negatively affect health. PMs differ in size, the most harmful being PM2.5 and PM10 – with a diameter of less than 2.5 μm and 10μm respectively. A human hair’s diameter is 50-70 μm.

PM2.5 levels below 12 are considered good, 55-150 unhealthy and 250 or higher are dangerous.

INTERACTIVE air quality(Al Jazeera)

The most polluted cities in the world

By 2020, India had 46 of the world’s 100 most polluted cities, followed by China (42), Pakistan (6), Bangladesh (4), Indonesia (1) and Thailand (1), according to air quality tracker IQAir. All of these cities had a PM2.5 air quality rating of over 50.

Nine of the top 10 most polluted cities are in India.

Hotan, in western China’s Xinjiang, had the worst average air quality in 2020, with 110.2.

INTERACTIVE- polluted cities(Al Jazeera)

India’s deadly pollution

In 2019, 1.67 million deaths in India were caused by air pollution, according to the Lancet.

While the replacement of solid fuels with alternative deaths related to domestic air pollution has decreased since 1990, deaths related to surrounding PMs have increased.

Fifteen of the 20 most polluted cities are in India, mostly in the north. Stubble burns nail contamination in fall and winter. Vehicle emissions, industries and burning debris also contribute to high levels of PM2.5 and other pollutants.

INTERACTIVE- India deaths(Al Jazeera)

What is a smoke mist?

Some Indian and Chinese cities have installed smoke debris to try to tackle air pollution.

New Delhi has installed two following an order from India’s Supreme Court – one is in a busy shopping area.

The $ 2 million 25-meter (82-foot) high tower’s 40 fans take in particle-loaded air at 1,000 cubic meters (35,000 cubic feet) per second and pass it through filters.

The smoke mist operates within a radius of one kilometer (0.6 miles) and presumably reduces PM2.5 levels by 50 percent. But questions remain about how effective they really are.

INTERACTIVE smoky towers(Al Jazeera)

Air pollution’s health impacts

According to the WHO, about 7 million people die annually due to air pollution. More than 90 percent of the world’s population lives in areas where air pollution exceeds WHO limits.

Air pollution is linked to a number of diseases, including asthma, diabetes and heart disease.

INTERACTIVE- air pollution symptoms(Al Jazeera)

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