Most Indian cities fail to meet air quality standards: report 

Greenpeace study estimates air pollution kills more than 1 million Indians each year

Not a single city in northern India meets international air quality standards, according to a Greenpeace report that estimates air pollution kills more than 1 million Indians each year.

The report released last week also shows that levels of the most dangerous airborne pollutants grew by 13 per cent in India between 2010 and 2015 but fell at least 15 per cent over the same period in China, the U.S. and Europe.

It adds to a growing body of research showing the problem of toxic air is not limited only to the Indian capital, Delhi, but afflicts almost all the country’s large cities, particularly in the north.

Air quality data gathered for 2015 from state pollution control boards and under freedom of information laws showed “there are virtually no places in India complying with World Health Organisation and national ambient air quality (NAAQ) standards, and most cities are critically polluted”, the report said.

“Except for a few places in southern India which complied with NAAQ standards, the entire country is experiencing a public health crisis due to high air pollution levels.”

In all of the 20 cities monitored in the state of Uttar Pradesh, the level of PM10 – airborne pollutants such as dust, mould and chemical droplets less than 10 micrometers in diameter – exceeded international limits by at least 100 per cent.

Ghaziabad, an Uttar Pradesh city that borders Delhi, exceeded the limits by more than 400 per cent, the report showed.

But the PM10 limits also exceeded in cities where the problem is less publicised, such as Hyderabad, Pune and Thane, where pollution density was about twice the safe level.

Cities in the south-western state of Karnataka generally enjoyed good air quality, with 12 of the 21 places with monitoring stations, including Mangalore and Mysore, recording PM10 levels well below the safe annual average limit of 60 micrograms.

Delhi’s average level of PM2.5, the smallest and most harmful pollutants, was 128 micrograms in 2015 compared with 81 micrograms in Beijing that year.

Last week, Delhi’s high court directed administrators in Punjab, an agricultural northern state where crop burning each October sends torrents of smog billowing across north India, to cease the practice from this year.

India’s supreme court has also banned fireworks from Delhi after last year’s Diwali festival caused levels of some pollutants to reach 42 times the safe limit and forced the closure of schools, construction sites and a coal-fired power station.(c) Guardian News & Media Ltd, 2017

Except for a few places in southern India which complied with NAAQ standards, the entire country is experiencing a public health crisis due to high air pollution levels


Good, bad and ugly

  • The PM10 limits also exceeded in cities where the problem is less publicised, such as Hyderabad, Pune and Thane, where pollution density was about twice the safe level.
  • Ghaziabadexceeded the limits by more than 400 per cent, the report showed.
  • Cities in the south-western state of Karnataka generally enjoyed good air quality, with 12 of the 21 places with monitoring stations, including Mangalore and Mysore, recording PM10 levels well below the safe annual average limit of 60 micrograms.
  • Poor air quality is the result of several factors including road dust, open fires, vehicle exhaust fumes, industrial emissions and the burning of crop residue.

The Lancet’s global burden of disease study shows about 3,283 Indians die each day due to exposure to outdoor air pollution.

Source: Most Indian cities fail to meet air quality standards: report – IN SCHOOL – The Hindu

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