Disasters & Accidents

South Asia registers dangerous air pollution levels in 2022

New Delhi, Mar 14 (EFE).- The air quality in South Asia registered some of its most toxic levels in 2022, with major cities in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh figuring among the most polluted in the world, according to the annual air pollution report published by Swiss air quality technology company IQAir.

New Delhi and Bangladesh, which had respectively topped the categories of the capital and country with the worst air quality for four years in a row until 2021, dropped to the second and fifth position in 2022, although they continued to record pollution levels hazardous for human health.

India ended 2022 as the eighth most polluted country in the world, registering an annual average PM 2.5 particulate-matter level of 53.5 microgram per cubic meter (μg/m3), slightly better than the previous year, when it stood at the fifth position with a showing of 58.1.

PM 2.5 particles are considered the most dangerous, as their small size allows them to pass through the lungs and enter the bloodstream.

Despite the slight improvement, India was home to 12 of the region’s 15 most polluted cities as per the report, which also highlighted that 60 percent of Indian cities included in the survey experienced annual PM 2.5 levels “at least seven times” above the World Health Organisation guidelines.

Pakistan was the only country in the region which climbed up in the list of world’s most polluted countries, being listed at the third place.

Although Islamabad ranked 17th in the list of the world’s most polluted capitals, the document showed that last year the city of Lahore – the second most populated Pakistani metropolis – was the most polluted urban area not just in South Asia but the entire world, with an average PM 2.5 of 97.4 μg/m3.

All the Pakistani cities included in the report showed annual average PM 2.5 concentration levels at least eight times above the WHO guidelines, according to IQAir.

The study warned that apart from the dominant primary sources of air pollution across the world, the region witnessed additional factors such as the burning of solid fuel for cooking and heating, emissions from small-scale industries such as brick kilns, burning of municipal and agricultural waste, and cremation.

These factors contribute to a significant rise in air pollution.

IQAir quoted the latest World Bank report to warn that air pollution causes around two million premature deaths in South Asia every year, apart from resulting in significant economic losses. EFE


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