According to the World Air Quality Report 2021, prepared by Swiss organisation IQAir, released last week, as many as 35 of the 50 cities with the worst air quality were in India.
New Delhi continues to be the world’s most polluted capital city for the fourth consecutive year in 2021. Delhi’s air pollution, ranked at number 4 globally, increased almost 15 percent over the previous year. The world’s most polluted place went to Rajasthan’s Bhiwadi, followed by Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad.
The IQAir report, published after a survey of pollution data from 6,475 cities across the world, also revealed that not a single country managed to meet the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) air quality standard in 2021, and smog even rebounded in some regions after a COVID-related dip.
According to a report by Hindustan Times, “India also continues to feature prominently among the most polluted cities with 35 of the top 50 most polluted cities being in this country. India’s annual average PM2.5 levels reached 58.1 μg/m3 in 2021, ending a three-year trend of improving air quality.” India’s annual PM2.5 averages have returned to pre-quarantine concentrations as measured in 2019. “Alarmingly, in 2021, none of the Indian cities met the prescribed WHO standards of 5 μg/m3,” added the report.
The WHO recommends that average annual readings of small and hazardous airborne particles known as PM2.5 should be no more than 5 micrograms per cubic metre after changing its guidelines last year, saying that even low concentrations caused significant health risks. But only 3.4 per cent of the surveyed cities met the standard in 2021, according to data compiled by IQAir.
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