Graphic shows 20 most polluted cities.
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By Duncan Mil

February 25, 2020 - India is home to 14 of 20 of the planet’s most polluted cities, according to PM2.5 concentrations – particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns – the pollutant seen as the most harmful to human health.

Air pollution constitutes the most pressing environmental health risk facing our global population, according to the 2019 World Air Quality Report published Tuesday by IQAir AirVisual. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that air pollution contributes toward 7 million premature deaths a year, while some 92% of the world’s population breathe low air quality.

Ghaziabad, a satellite city of the capital New Delhi in northern Uttar Pradesh state, is ranked as the world’s most polluted city, with an average PM2.5 concentration measurement of 110.2 microns (micrometres) per cubic metre in 2019. That’s 11 times than the level which the WHO regards as healthy.

In January of last year, the government launched the National Clean Air Programme which aims to reduce PM2.5 and the more substantial particulate PM10 air pollution in 102 cities by 20-30% by 2024 compared to 2017 levels.

Several Chinese cities, including Beijing -- once infamous for its toxic haze -- have dramatically improved their air quality in recent years, with average concentrations of pollutants falling 9% from 2018 to 2019, according to the report.

“In Beijing, it’s a priority -- in China, when they say something, they do it, they put the resources in,” said Yann Boquillod, AirVisual’s director of air quality monitoring. “In India, it’s just starting. People need to put more pressure on the government.”

PUBLISHED: 25/02/2020; STORY: Graphic News
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