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India home to 18 of 20 cities with most severe rise in pollution levels; Delhi's PM2.5 levels highest, new study says

Delhi has the highest average level of fine PM 2.5 among the world's most populated cities, as per new study. (HT)Premium
Delhi has the highest average level of fine PM 2.5 among the world's most populated cities, as per new study. (HT)

  • The report published by the US-based research organisation Health Effects Institute (HEI) shows that India's national capital Delhi has the highest average level of fine PM 2.5 among the world's most populated cities

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A new study on the detailed analysis of air pollution and global health effects for over 7,000 cities released on Wednesday informed that India is home to 18 of the 20 cities with the most severe increase in fine particle pollutants (PM2.5) from 2010 to 2019. The report published by the US-based research organisation Health Effects Institute (HEI) additionally shows that India's national capital Delhi has the highest average level of fine PM 2.5 among the world's most populated cities, news agency PTI report said.

Interestingly, the analysis used data from 2010 to 2019 and focused on two of the most harmful pollutants; fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and the report 'Air Quality and Health in Cities' combined ground-based air quality data with satellites and models to produce air quality estimates for cities around the world, the report said.

Additionally, the authors noted that in 2019, 1.7 million deaths linked to PM2.5 exposure occurred in the 7,239 cities included in the analysis, with cities in Asia, Africa, and Eastern and Central Europe seeing the greatest health impacts, while they zoomed in to the most populous cities in each region i.e. a subset of 103 cities across 21 regions, the report said. 

The report further highlighted that among the most populous cities in each region, Delhi and Kolkata featured in the top 10 with the highest PM2.5-related disease burden in 2019, while in the 20 cities with highest PM2.5 exposures, residents in cities from India, Nigeria, Peru, and Bangladesh are exposed to PM2.5 levels that are several-fold higher than the global averages, the report said.

As per the report, only four of these cities, and none in India, met the WHO annual PM2.5 Air Quality Guideline of 5 microgrammes per cubic metre (µg/m3) in 2019, and India and Indonesia have seen the most severe increase in PM2.5 pollution, whereas China has seen the greatest improvements. "Of 7,239 cities, India is home to 18 of the 20 cities with the most severe increase in PM2.5 pollution from 2010 to 2019. The other two cities are in Indonesia," the authors of the study further noted. 

(With inputs from PTI)

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