Why India’s air pollution is so horrendous

Thursday, May 10, 2018

By Umair Irfan

A new report from the World Health Organization, drawing on measurements and calculations as of 2016 from air monitoring stations in 4,300 cities, shows that air pollution is a global problem. A whopping nine in 10 people on Earth breathe highly polluted air, and more than 80 percent of urban dwellers have to endure outdoor pollution that exceeds health standards, according to the WHO’s World Global Ambient Air Quality Database.

But there are certain places on the planet where the air is now consistently, epically terrible.

For instance, India. When you look at the database’s ranking of particulate pollution in cities, 11 of the 12 cities with the highest levels are located there. Kanpur, India, population 3 million, tops the list with a yearly average of 319 micrograms per cubic meter of PM2.5, the most hazardous particle commonly measured. (Bamenda, Cameroon, is the one city outside of India in the top 12.)

There are a variety of air pollutants that can impact health — nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, and ozone, among them. But the database classifies air pollution in two ways: by PM2.5, particles smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter, and by PM 10, particles that are 10 microns in diameter.

Photo courtesy of Señor Codo.

Source: Vox (link opens in a new window)

Environment, Health Care
public health, urban development