Delhi and Varanasi Among The Most Polluted Cities In India

Sheila Mcguire
May 3, 2018

This could mean that there are more than 3 billion people who are breathing toxic smoke while they cook food in their homes, says Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of WHO.

The WHO report said it has been monitoring household air pollution for more than a decade.

"Air pollution is the most lethal environmental health threat in our region, and it affects people in middle-income countries at a much higher rate than those in high-income countries", said Dr. Shin Young-soo, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific.

"Around 3 billion people-more than 40% of the world's population-still do not have access to clean cooking fuels and technologies in their homes, the main source of household air pollution", it said.

This article has been adapted from its original source.

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The study added that nine out of 10 people in the world breathe polluted air.

A study, jointly conducted by a team of scientists from Pune-based Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) and University of Kashmir, had revealed that pollution in Srinagar hits unsafe levels during winter months as the air carries five times more tiny particulate matter than the permissible limit, with the experts terming it a worrying development. Under PM 10, 13 Indian cities feature in the list of 20 most polluted cities in the world.

WHO's Dr Neira echoed that message, highlighting "an acceleration of political interest in this global public health challenge".

While the quality of air gradually improved in affluent countries, air pollution deteriorates further in poorer nations.

The CSE said real-time air quality monitoring, especially that of PM2.5, will have to be expanded significantly to assess air quality in all cities with sizeable population.

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According to the Union environment ministry, the data for 2017 has shown an improvement since 2016 and 2018 so far has also fared better than 2016 - indicating cleaner air due to the efforts that were made in 2017.

"India needs massive energy transition across industries and households, mobility transition to public transport, walking and cycling, and effective waste management to control this run-away pollution", she added.

The least polluted air tends to be found in more developed, richer countries whose governments have taken steps to tackle what British lawmakers previously called a "national health emergency". "In just two years, India's Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana Scheme has provided some 37 million women living below the poverty line with free LPG connections to support them to switch to clean household energy use", the report reads.

WHO's global assessment is based on satellite data and modeling overlaid on the database of cities, which is self-selecting because it is based on voluntary reporting, with numbers that have been hugely revised since the previous report.

Several Chinese cities were also listed in the report as highly polluted but the data for those places was four or five years old.

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