India is the fastest growing economy in the world, however, there is a grave case of catastrophic air pollution crisis in the country. A new report from the World Health Organisation (WHO) emphasises on how widespread air pollution crisis is in urban India and how deficient air quality monitoring is. The report, which summarised data from 2016 for 4,300 cities, ranks 14 Indian cities among the 20 most polluted ones globally. This is a frightening statistic and it needs to be addressed very loud and clear.
Air Pollution Facts
- More than 90 per cent of the global population is breathing in high levels of pollutants, the World Health Organization, blaming poor air quality for some seven million deaths annually.
- 1 in 9 deaths worldwide is due to air pollution.
- 9 out of 10 people worldwide breathe polluted air containing high levels of pollutants like carbon which penetrate deep into the lungs and cardiovascular systems.
- Air pollution accelerates climate change which the world is facing.
- 91% of the world’s population lives in places where air quality exceeds WHO guideline limits.
- 25% of all heart disease is attributable to air pollution. Air pollution causes 2.4 million deaths due to air pollution every year.
- 43% of all lung disease and lung cancer is due to air pollution. Air pollution causes 1.8 million deaths due to lung disease and lung cancer every year.
The above statistics are from the World Health Organisation.
Why is India’s Air Quality So Poor?
Delhi is the capital of India and home to nearly 19 million people. This is where poisonous microscopic particles have been raised to 75 times the level considered safe by the WHO. The pollution is equivalent to smoking 40 cigarettes a day. The urban setting is attracting more air pollution, however, the rural areas are not far off. Rural areas are also badly affected by air pollution making the crisis alarming. In 2015, about 75 per cent of deaths linked to air pollution in India, some 1.1 million people, occurred in rural areas.
75% of India’s population lives outside of cities, and 80 per cent of these households rely on biomass like wood and dung for cooking and heating. Agricultural practices like burning crop stubble also remain widespread.
What to do Next?
Many organisations from India are creating awareness programmes on how to fight air pollution. One such organisation is Help Delhi Breathe.
The Help Delhi Breathe organisation from Delhi has started an informative campaign to fight dangerous air pollution and help all residents of Delhi breathe the pure, safe air they deserve. They have highlighted some key focus areas to protect and reduce your impact on air pollution.
Protect Yourself By
- Wear Protection – masks and air purifiers
- Pay attention to air quality monitoring in your city – to help to avoid those busy areas during peak hours
- Avoid morning walks – as this is the most polluted time of the day.
Decrease Your Impact
- Do not burn trash – instead turn to recycling
- Responsible car use – try carpooling, local transport or even cycle to commute
- Do not burn biomass
- Avoid burning firecrackers – highest source of nitrogen oxide which is a primary source of air pollution
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