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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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Air Pollution
WHO releases a list of most and least polluted cities. Pixabay

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 quality Improves in Delhi After Several Years

Delhi's air quality improves to 'Good', best in years

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air quality
According to the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting (Safar) and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the overall air quality index (AQI) of Delhi, which was at 47, falling in the good category. Pixabay

Delhi hasn’t breathed this clean in years. Rainfall in and around brought the capital’s air quality on Saturday to the “good” condition, while PM 2.5 levels, recorded at 15 by the US Embassy and 17 by Safar, were the lowest in this year.

According to the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting (Safar) and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the overall air quality index (AQI) of Delhi, which was at 47, falling in the good category.

The level of PM2.5 was recorded at 17 and the PM10 level was recorded at 31 on Saturday, Safar said. These denote levels of particulate matter, of two sizes up to 2.5 and 10 micrometres in diameter, in the atmosphere. In comparison, the AQI in New York was recorded at “good” at 17, at 34 in Frankfurt, while in London, it was “moderate” at 52.

A CPCB scientist said that in 2017, the city had witnessed the AQI recorded below 50 – at 42, but could not recall the exact date. The CPCB is recording AQI since 2015 and such good conditions have not been seen in the last four years.

Gufran Baig, scientist and programme director, SAFAR, said that this is the lowest AQI recorded this year and it will remain good for another two to three days. He said that the air quality has improved due to widespread rain received in the northern parts of the country.

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The air quality has improved due to widespread rain received in the northern parts of the country. Pixabay

“Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, all areas surrounding are receiving a good amount of rainfall this year which is improving the air condition in the city. Such kind of rain was never received earlier so the air quality has never reached this level,” Baig said.

Also Read: 300 More Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Stations to Open in Delhi

Mahesh Palawat, Vice President, Meteorology and Climate Change, at private forecaster Skymet Weather told IANS that this was the longest spell of clean air experienced by Delhiites.

“The widespread rain has helped in improving air quality in Delhi as well as in Noida and Gurugram. Increased rainfall activity is likely to bring more respite in coming days,” he said, adding that the rain has helped in settling down pollutants. (IANS)