Air Quality Index: India world’s second most polluted country

WION Web Team
NEW DELHI Published: Sep 25, 2021, 12:22 AM(IST)

File photo Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

According to the University of Chicago's Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) report, India is the most polluted country in the world, with more than 480 million people (roughly 40% of the population) living in the Indo-Gangetic plains in the north, where pollution levels regularly exceed those found anywhere else in the world by an order of magnitude.

COVID-19 lockdowns have given blue skies to the world's most polluting areas in the last year, while wildfires driven by a dryer and hotter climate have suffocated the normally pure skies of cities hundreds of miles away.Two future views emerge from the clashing circumstances.Policies to limit fossil fuel use are the difference between those two futures.

India is now the second most polluted country on the planet.

The average Indian life expectancy is 5.2 years shorter than it would be if the World Health Organisation (WHO) guideline were followed, and 2.3 years shorter than it would be if pollution was lowered to meet the country's own national standard.

Some parts of India suffer significantly worse than others, with air pollution reducing life expectancy by 9.4 years in Delhi and 8.6 years in Uttar Pradesh, India's most polluted state.

Key takeaways

The WHO standard for annual average particle pollution is exceeded in all of India's 1.4 billion population. Eighty-four percent of the population lives in locations where air quality exceeds India's own standards.

Particulate pollution has risen dramatically in recent years.Since 1998, average yearly particle pollution has grown by 42%, reducing the average resident's life expectancy by 1.8 years.

A quarter of India's population is exposed to levels of pollution unheard of in any other country, with 248 million people in northern India on track to lose more than 8 years of life expectancy if pollution levels continue to rise.

Lucknow, the capital of India's northern state Uttar Pradesh, has the country's highest pollution level, with pollution levels 11 times higher than the WHO recommendation.If pollution continues, Lucknow residents will lose 10.3 years of life expectancy.

Delhi, India's capital, is likewise heavily polluted.Residents of Delhi might gain 9.4 years if pollution levels were reduced to meet WHO guidelines, and 6.5 years if pollution levels met India's national standard.

According to the University of Chicago's Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) report, India is the most polluted country in the world, with more than 480 million people (roughly 40% of the population) living in the Indo-Gangetic plains in the north, where pollution levels regularly exceed those found anywhere else in the world by an order of magnitude.

WHO tightens air quality guidelines for first time since 2005:

For the first time since 2005, the World Health Organization (WHO) revised its air quality criteria on Wednesday, September 22, with the hopes of spurring countries toward renewable energy and preventing deaths and illnesses caused by air pollution.

The new guidelines, which target pollutants like as particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide, both of which are prevalent in fossil fuel emissions, might save "millions of lives," according to the report.

The WHO limits for particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometres – or less than one-thirtieth the breadth of a human hair – have been cut in half by new recommendations.That's small enough to get deep into the lungs and into the bloodstream.

According to the new limits, average annual PM2.5 concentrations should be no higher than 5 micrograms per cubic meter.

(With inputs from agencies)

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