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India Home to 6 Out of 10 Most Polluted Cities in the World
The problem of air pollution is getting severe each year. Nine out of 10 people worldwide breathe polluted air. Figures from the World Health Organization show that air pollution levels remain “dangerously high” in many parts of the world.
The death toll across the world due to pollution is increasing. The latest report of the World Health Organisation (WHO) reveals that up to seven million people die prematurely, every year, due to air pollution.
Air Pollution and Developing Countries
There was a time, a couple of years ago, that air pollution was mainly due to the developed countries. Statistics from the World Health Organisation (WHO) show that, in general, developed countries including countries from Europe, America, and West Pacific Region have significantly improved the quality of air in the past couple of years and reduced their air pollution levels. At present, air pollution remains to be a significant problem for low-income and developing countries.
Air Pollution in the Mediterranean & Southeast Asian Regions
The study shows that the worst outdoor air pollution in Mediterranean and Southeast Asia regions is more than five times above the WHO’s recommended limits followed by low- and middle-income cities in Africa and the Western Pacific.
According to the latest air quality database, 97% of cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants in low- and middle-income countries do not meet WHO air quality guidelines. However, in high-income countries, that figure decreases to 49%.
India Home to 6 Out of 10 Most Polluted Cities
Viraj Mehta, Head of Regional Agenda, India and South Asia at the World Economic Forum, says that while India has pledged to take action, the reality on the ground is that there is a large amount of work to be done to tackle the air pollution crisis.
Of 20 cities across the world, India is home to 15 most polluted cities around the world. Whereas, six Indian cities make it to the top ten of the list.
“Prime Minister Modi in his 2018 Davos speech termed climate change one of the critical challenges facing civilization. However, a lot still needs to be done to match India’s global ambitions with domestic realities where related problems like air pollution are as acute in the rural areas as in urban,” he says.
Air Pollution – The Silent Killer
Air pollution is a major environmental risk to health. The fine particles in polluted air enter the lungs and cardiovascular system and become a major cause of strokes, heart and lung diseases.
There are annually up to seven million premature deaths from exposure to these particles, the majority living in the developing world. As per WHO report, an estimated 4.2 million people die every year due to outdoor air pollution, and 3.8 million by household air pollution – caused by cooking with polluting fuels such as kerosene, biomass (wood, animal dung, and crop waste) and coal.
But more than 90% of those deaths happen in low- and middle-income countries, mainly in Asia and Africa, followed by low- and middle-income countries of the eastern Mediterranean region, Europe and the Americas.
How to Curb the Problem of Air Pollution?
Pollution is a menace that has numerous forms. So far as air pollution is concerned, it comes from many sources, including transportation, power plants, oil refineries, industrial facilities, factories and the burning of waste.
Among the obvious solutions are making transport systems more sustainable, including encouraging people to walk and cycle more, investing in energy-efficient power production and changing the way we manage waste.
The following illustration explains a lot.
- One of the key measures to tackle indoor pollution is to give everyone access to clean fuels and cooking facilities.
- The WHO highlights a scheme in India, which gave free LPG connections to 37 million women living below the poverty line. The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana Scheme aims to protect women and children from smoke emitted in the home when cooking with firewood.
- Countries need to work together on solutions for sustainable transport, more efficient and renewable energy production and use and waste management, says the WHO.
- Not to mention planting of trees on massive scales. Protection of existing Forests and afforestation of new areas.