New Delhi: India has dropped from fifth to eighth place in terms of the world’s most polluted countries in 2022. According to the ‘World Air Quality Report’ released by Swiss firm IQAir, out of the 50 most polluted cities in the world, 39 are in India.
On the basis of the data collected from 131 countries using over 30,000 ground-based monitors, the report found that India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh are the top three most polluted countries. Australia, Estonia, Finland, Grenada, Iceland, and New Zealand were among the few countries that complied with the World Health Organization (WHO) PM2.5 guidelines.
In India, the transportation sector causes 20-35 per cent of the PM2.5 pollution, while other sources of pollution are industrial units, coal-fired power plants, and biomass burning. Bhiwadi in Rajasthan ranked third among the most polluted cities in the world, while Delhi ranked fourth with its PM2.5 level almost 20 times the safe limit. The report made a distinction between ‘greater’ Delhi and New Delhi.
Chad’s N’Djamena was ranked the world’s most polluted capital.
The report said worldwide poor air quality accounts for 93 billion days lived with illness and over six million deaths each year, with an economic cost of over $8 trillion dollars, which surpasses 6.1 per cent of the global annual GDP. Exposure to air pollution causes and aggravates several health conditions such as asthma, cancer, lung illnesses, heart disease, and premature mortality.
The report also revealed that 31 cities, including ten in Uttar Pradesh and seven in Haryana, have seen a steep decline in pollution levels, while 38 cities and towns have seen a rise in pollution compared to previous years’ averages.
Among the six metro cities, Kolkata was ranked the most polluted after Delhi, while Chennai was stated to be the cleanest with pollution ‘just’ 5x the WHO’s safe level. Hyderabad and Bengaluru saw an uptick in pollution levels over the average since 2017.