Tuesday January 22, 2019
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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 Pollution in Delhi Again Reaches ‘Severe’ Levels

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has forecast light rainfall at isolated places in Delhi over the weekend which might bring down pollution levels

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Air Pollution
Delhi air pollution again reaches 'severe' levels. Pixabay

Owing to a rise in humidity and light winds, the overall air quality of the national capital slipped to the ‘severe’ zone on Saturday, despite the authorities predicting it would remain in the ‘very poor’ category.

“Calm winds along with a spike in humidity levels because of an induced Cyclonic Circulation over Northern Plains are the major contributors for a hike in pollution levels in Delhi and adjoining areas,” Mahesh Palawat, Director at private weather forecasting agency Skymet told IANS.

He said that the pollution levels might increase in the coming days as humidity levels are expected to go up due to rains in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.

“Around January 13 and 14, moderate to dense fog is expected to make a comeback, which will result in high pollution levels and minimums will see a drop by a couple of degrees,” he said.

However, the Skymet Director said that post January 15, the air quality might start improving due to cold, north-westerly winds which will blow over the plains of the country.

The System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR), in its daily pollution analysis, has been maintaining that the air quality in Delhi won’t go beyond the ‘very poor’ category.

Delhi. air pollution
A man rides his bicycle in front of the India Gate shrouded in smog in New Delhi, Dec. 26, 2018. VOA

On Saturday however, many areas in Delhi and adjoining areas at 12 p.m recorded ‘severe’ levels of toxic particulate matter (PM) 2.5.

Anand Vihar at 448, Dwarka sector-8 at 450, ITO at 413, Mundka at 438, Delhi University North Campus at 416, R.K. Puram at 415, and Wazirpur at 434 – all recorded ‘severe’ levels of PM2.5.

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Other areas like Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Ashok Vihar, Burari Crossing, Vivek Vihar, Sirifort, Okhla Phase-2 also fared in the same category.

On Wednesday and Thursday, Delhi-NCR witnessed its first better days of the year with the air quality recorded in the ‘poor’ zone.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has forecast light rainfall at isolated places in Delhi over the weekend which might bring down pollution levels. (IANS)