Srinagar: While the government many still boast of Kashmir’s fresh air for tourism promotion but its capital city Srinagar has been listed as the tenth most polluted city in the world in terms of air quality (PM 2.5 levels) by the WHO in its Global Urban Ambient Air Pollution Database.
Among the 20 worst polluted cities, the top 14 are in India with Kanpur leading the chart with annual average PM 2.5 level of 173.
Delhi is listed at sixth place with PM2.5 level of 143, while Srinagar is at tenth place with PM2.5 level of 113.
PM2.5 stands for particulate matter less than 2.5 micron size.
The latest and updated urban air quality database for 2016 released by the WHO, shows that as many as 9 out of 10 people breathe air that breaches safe limits. As many as 7 million people are dying every year due to ambient and household air pollution as exposure to fine particles that go deep into the lungs and cardiovascular system, cause stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases and respiratory infections. But the most disquieting fact is that among the worst affected cities in the world, Indian cities top the list.
Indian cities that registered very high levels of PM2.5 pollutants were Kanpur, Faridabad, Gaya, Patna, Agra, Muzaffarpur, Gurgaon, Jaipur, Patiala and Jodhpur followed by Ali Subah Al-Salem in Kuwait and a few cities in China and Mongolia. In terms of PM10 levels, 13 cities in India figured among the 20 most-polluted cities of the world in 2016. The World Health Organisation has called upon member-countries in its Southeast Asia Region to aggressively address the double burden of household and ambient (outdoor) air pollution, saying the region, which comprises India, accounts for 34 pc or 2.4 million of the seven million premature deaths caused by household and ambient air pollution together globally every year. Of the 3.8 million deaths caused by household air pollution globally, the region accounts for 1.5 million or 40 per cent deaths, and of the 4.2 million global deaths due to ambient air pollution, 1.3 million or 30 per cent are reported from the region, it said. The PM2.5 includes pollutants like sulfate, nitrate and black carbon, which pose the greatest risk to human health. WHO’s global urban air pollution database measured the levels of fine particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5) from more than 4,300 cities in 108 countries, according to which ambient air pollution alone caused some 4.2 million deaths in 2016, while household air pollution from cooking with polluting fuels and technologies caused an estimated 3.8 million deaths in the same period. Since 2016, over 1,000 additional cities have been added to WHO’s database, which shows more countries are measuring and taking action to reduce air pollution than ever before.