World Air Quality Report 2019 | 26 Feb 2020

Why in News

India was the fifth most polluted country in 2019 and accounts for almost two-thirds of the world’s most polluted cities according to the World Air Quality Report 2019.

  • The report was released by the pollution tracker IQAir and Greenpeace.
  • The ranking is based on a comparison of PM 2.5 levels.

PM 2.5

  • It is an atmospheric particulate matter of diameter of fewer than 2.5 micrometres, which is around 3% the diameter of a human hair.
  • It causes respiratory problems and also reduces visibility. It is an endocrine disruptor that can affect insulin secretion and insulin sensitivity, thus contributing to diabetes.
  • It is very small and can only be detected with the help of an electron microscope.

Key Points

  • Bangladesh emerged as the most polluted country for PM 2.5 exposure followed by Pakistan, Mongolia, Afghanistan and India.
  • 21 of the 30 most polluted cities in the world are located in India with Ghaziabad in the National Capital Region ranked the world’s most polluted.
  • Indian cities, on average, exceed the World Health Organisation (WHO) target for annual PM 2.5 exposure by 500%.
    • For example, Mumbai’s annual PM 2.5 concentration is 45.3 micrograms/cubic metre, when it should be 10 micrograms/cubic metre according to the WHO.
  • However, national air pollution decreased by 20% from 2018 to 2019, with 98% of cities experiencing improvements.
    • India launched a National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) in 2019 that commits to reducing air pollution in 102 most polluted cities by a maximum of 30% by 2024.
    • The report, however, noted that the reduction in pollution in 2019 couldn’t be attributed to the NCAP but to the slowing of the marketplace.
      • According to the Economic Survey 2019-20, the economic growth rate in India is expected to slow down to 5% in 2019-20 from 6.1% in 2018-19 and 7% in 2017-18.
  • The Report highlights elevated air pollution levels as a result of climate change events, such as sandstorms, wildfires and pollution gains from the rapid urbanization of cities in regions such as Southeast Asia.
    • While some achievements have been made in air quality monitoring infrastructure globally, there are still huge gaps in access to data around the world.
  • It is to be noted that the World Air Quality Report is different from the State Of Global Air Report which is produced by the Boston-based Health Effects Institute (HEI).

Source: TH