Delhi most polluted capital in the world, India third most polluted country

Bangladesh had the worst air quality with 79.9 micrograms per cubic metre

delhi-air-pollution-afp Commuters make their way along the Signature bridge amid heavy smog conditions in New Delhi | AFP

Delhi has been identified as the world's most polluted capital and Begusarai in Bihar has been identified as the world's most polluted metropolitan area. In 2023, Delhi's PM2.5 (Particulate Matter) levels worsened to 92.7 micrograms per cubic metre. 

As per the World Air Quality Report 2023 by Swiss organisation IQAir, India had the third-worst air quality out of 134 countries in 2023 With an average annual PM2.5 concentration of 54.4 micrograms per cubic metre. Bangladesh had the worst air quality with 79.9 micrograms per cubic metre followed by Pakistan with 73.7 micrograms per cubic metre.

In 2022, India was ranked the third most polluted country with PM2.5 concentration of 53.3 micrograms per cubic metre. Of the 100 cities with the world's worst air pollution, 83 were in India. According to the report, all the cities exceeded the World Health Organization’s air quality guidelines. The bad air quality is risking the lives of billions of people worldwide. 

7,800 cities analysed and of these, recorded air quality of only 9 per cent met WHO standards. As per standards set by WHO, PM2.5 should not exceed 5 micrograms per cubic meter. 

People in 66 per cent of Indian cities are exposed to PM2.5 levels, that are higher than recommended by WHO guidelines. According to the report, one in every nine deaths is the result of air pollution. Exposure to high PM2.5 levels can lead to several health conditions including asthma, cancer, stroke and lung disease. 

The ten countries and territories that have healthy air quality include Finland, Estonia, Puerto Rico, Australia, New Zealand, Bermuda, Grenada, Iceland, Mauritius and French Polynesia. 

“We see that in every part of our lives that air pollution has an impact,” IQAir Global CEO Frank Hammes told CNN. “And it typically, in some of the most polluted countries, is likely shaving off anywhere between three to six years of people’s lives. And then before that will lead to many years of suffering that are entirely preventable if there’s better air quality,” he added.

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