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Air Pollution: WHO Releases List of The Best And Worst Cities

90% of world's population breathes badly polluted air: WHO

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WHO releases a list of most and least polluted cities. Pixabay
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Nine out of every 10 people on the planet breathe air that contains high levels of pollutants and kills seven million people each year, according to a new World Health Organization (WHO) study released on Wednesday.

The study is an analysis of what the WHO says is the world’s most comprehensive database on ambient air pollution. The organisation collected the data from more than 4,300 cities and 108 countries, reports CNN.

People in Asia and Africa face the biggest problems, according to the study.

More than 90 per cent of air pollution-related deaths happen there, but cities in the Americas, Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean also have air pollution levels that are beyond what the WHO considers healthy.

The new WHO data show that US cities on the more polluted side of the list include Los Angeles, Bakersfield and Fresno, California; Indianapolis; and the Elkhart-Goshen area of Indiana.

Air Pollution.
Air Pollution. Pixabay

Peshawar and Rawalpindi in Pakistan, have some of the highest particulate air pollution levels in the database. Varanasi and Kanpur in India; Cairo; and Al Jubail, Saudi Arabia, also show higher levels.

“I’m afraid what is dramatic is that air pollution levels still remain at dangerously high levels in many parts of the world,” CNN quoted Maria Neira, director of the WHO’s Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health, as saying.

“No doubt that air pollution represents today not only the biggest environmental risk for health, but I will clearly say that this is a major, major challenge for public health at the moment and probably one of the biggest ones we are contemplating.”

Particle pollution, a mix of solid and liquid droplets in the air, can get sucked into and embedded deep in your lungs when you breathe. That can lead to health conditions including asthma, lung cancer, heart disease, stroke and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), according to the study.

Also Read: Air Pollution And Its Effects On Our Health

These outdoor particulates — including sulphate, nitrates and black carbon — are largely created by car and truck traffic, manufacturing, power plants and farming. In total, air pollution caused about 4.2 million deaths in 2016, it added.

“Many of the world’s megacities exceed WHO’s guideline levels for air quality by more than five times, representing a major risk to people’s health,” Neira said. This is “a very dramatic problem that we are facing now”.

Cleaner air accounts for in cities like like Wenden, Arizona (population 2,882), or Cheyenne, Wyoming (population 64,019).

The Eureka-Arcata-Fortuna area of California; Battlement Mesa, Colorado; Wasilla, Alaska; Gillette, Wyoming; and Kapaa, Hawaii, are all on the cleaner-air list.

One of the bigger US cities with cleaner air is Honolulu, according to the WHO data.  (IANS)

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Air Pollutants Can Be Stopped If They Are Frozen : Scientists

The air-quality across the NCR was very poor

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India's Rashtrapati Bhawan, or the Presidential Palace is partly visible due to smog as traffic plies on Rajapth, the ceremonial boulevard in New Delhi. VOA

Freezing pollutants can prevent deadly outdoor air pollution — thought to cause more than three million premature deaths worldwide every year — from seeping indoors by 99 per cent, scientists have discovered.

The research, by a team of scientists from the Nottingham Trent University in the UK and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, involved studying the effectiveness of cryogenics for indoor air purification, by removing the gaseous pollutants and tiny particulates caused by haze.

The team found that as they circulated haze-polluted air through a cryogenic condenser, the finer particles stuck together in the condenser tube before dropping out by gravity, and emerging as clean air.

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A man wearing a respiratory protection mask walks toward an office building during the smog after a red alert was issued for heavy air pollution in Beijing’s central business district, China. VOA

Their method was able to remove 99 per cent of particulates and 98 per cent of nitrogen oxide pollutants.

“Hazardous outdoor air pollution has severely affected indoor air quality, threatening the health of billions of people,” said Professor Robert Mortimer, Dean of the School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences at Nottingham.

“Outdoor air pollution in cities is a global problem. While there are some existing technologies to purify indoor air, they can be inefficient, expensive or produce harmful by-products.

“When outdoor air quality is poor, people tend to spend even more time indoors – but outdoor pollution also leads to indoor pollution and people are still impacted.”

air pollution, Pollution, pollutants
In this Sept. 19, 2018 photo steam and cooling towers of a lignite power plant are reflected in a pond in Peitz, eastern Germany. VOA

The experiments, reported in the journal Science of the Total Environment, showed that by simply circulating polluted air through a small freezing chamber we can remove most of the fine particles and gas pollutants.

“Our study makes it possible to add an ‘air cleaner’ option to household appliances in areas which might experience extremely poor air conditions. By controlling indoor air pollution and improving air quality in this way, this work could be greatly beneficial for public health,” added Gang Pan, Professor at the varsity.

It is hoped that the work could pave the way for simple modification of air conditioning and humidifier units so that they can also clean polluted indoor air, the team said.

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Air pollution can also damage your kidneys. wikimedia commons

Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) on Sunday witnessed “very poor” air quality with the minimum temperature recorded at 12.4 degrees Celsius, two notches below the season’s average.

Also Read: Delhi’s Air Quality Leads to Ban On Truck And Construction

The air-quality across the NCR was very poor, according to System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research.

The humidity at 8.30 a.m. was 87 per cent. The maximum temperature was likely to hover around 28 degrees Celsius. (IANS)