India tops World Health Organization's air pollution list

Buildings enveloped in a thick blanket of smog in Noida

The data has revealed that India has 14 out 15 most polluted cities in the world.

In terms of PM10 levels, 13 cities in India figured among the 20 most-polluted cities of the world in 2016.

The Centre has made "serious" efforts to fight air pollution and the 2017 air quality data for fine particulate matter PM2.5 has shown improvement over the previous year, the Environment Ministry said today, after a WHO report listed 14 Indian cities among the world's 20 most polluted.

The study titled "18-year Ambient PM2.5 Exposure and Night Light Trends in India Cities" has been published in the Aerosol and Air Quality Research, an global peer reviewed journal.

Nearly one in five deaths attributed to ambient air pollution in 2016 were caused by acute lower respiratory infections, according to WHO.

In 2016 alone, outdoor, or ambient, air pollution caused some 4.2 million deaths, while household air pollution from cooking with polluting fuels and technologies caused an estimated 3.8 million deaths in the same period.

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It's a problem that affects more than 40 per cent of the world's population - some three billion people - a situation that the WHO Director-General described as "unacceptable".

Countries that are taking measures to reduce air pollution include India, WHO says, where one new scheme has provided free gas connections for more than 37 million women, to help them make the switch to clean energy use in the home. "The government has also taken several bold initiatives, including leap-frogging from BS-IV to BS-VI", it said. We are all breathing in highly polluted air, which needs to be checked right away. If steps are not taken to control pollution levels in these cities it would create a Delhi-like situation. Nearly 9 out of the 10 people breathe polluted air and is the most risky. "It is unacceptable that over 3 billion people - majority women and children - are still breathing deadly smoke every day from using polluting stoves and fuels in their homes", said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of WHO.

During these months, in addition to local emissions, there was a substantial contribution from regional sources, including smoke due to stubble burning in neighbouring states and dust from the Gulf countries, it said.

Air pollution does not recognise borders.

Rural air pollution is carried from the big cities by wind, with lorries and other long-distance traffic also now thought to play a larger role than expected.

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