New Delhi (ISJ) - Air pollution in New Delhi is the highest across the world, according to a study by World Health Organisation, WHO. Among the 20 cities with highest level of air pollution, 13 are in India, including New Delhi, Patna, Gwalior and Raipur.
Air pollution is single biggest environmental health hazard in the world, killing close to 7 million people in 2012, said WHO. According to a latest study by the world body, outdoor pollution was responsible for the deaths of some 3.7 million people under the age of 60 in 2012. High concentration of small and fine particulate pollution is associated with a high numbers of deaths from heart disease and stroke, respiratory ailments and cancers. The other high polluting cities in India are Ahmedabad, Ferozabad, Lucknow, Kanpur, Amritsar, Ludhiana, Agra, Allahabad, Khanna (Punjab) and Jodhpur.
Measurement of fine particulate matter of 2.5 micrometres or less in diameter (PM2.5) is considered to be the best indicator of the level of high risks from air pollution. The annual mean for PM 2.5 concentrations in Delhi was 153 micrograms per cubic meter. Though the Central Pollution Control Board claims, it provides real time data on pollution in major cities including the national capital, its website did not have even the latest data, leave alone real time.
The WHO report covered 1600 cities across 91 countries for five years from 2008 to 2013 and found air quality in most cities failed to meet WHO guidelines for safe levels. Many factors contribute to this increase, including reliance on fossil fuels such as coal fired power plants, dependence on private transport motor vehicles, inefficient use of energy in buildings, and the use of biomass for cooking and heating.
?We cannot buy clean air in a bottle, but cities can adopt measures that will clean the air and save the lives of their people,? said Dr Carlos Dora, Coordinator, Interventions for Healthy Environments, WHO.
The latest available data have prompted WHO to call for greater awareness of health risks caused by air pollution, implementation of effective air pollution mitigation policies; and close monitoring of the situation in cities worldwide.