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Delhi world’s most polluted capital city again: Report

According to a new report, Bihar’s Begusarai emerged as the world’s most polluted metropolitan area, while Delhi was identified as the capital city with the poorest air quality.

With an average annual PM2.5 concentration of 54.4 micrograms per cubic meter, India had the third worst air quality out of 134 countries in 2023 after Bangladesh (79.9 micrograms per cubic meter) and Pakistan (73.7 micrograms per cubic meter), according to the World Air Quality Report 2023 by Swiss organization IQAir.

In 2022, India was ranked as the eighth most polluted country, with an average PM2.5 concentration of 53.3 micrograms per cubic meter.

Bihar’s Begusarai, the world’s most polluted city

Begusarai was the most polluted metropolitan area globally, with an average PM2.5 concentration of 118.9 micrograms per cubic meter. The city did not even figure in the 2022 rankings.

Delhi’s PM2.5 levels worsened from 89.1 micrograms per cubic meter in 2022 to 92.7 micrograms per cubic meter in 2023.

Starting in 2018, the national capital was ranked the most polluted capital city in the world four times.

The report estimated that 1.36 billion people in India experience PM2.5 concentrations exceeding the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended annual guideline level of 5 micrograms per cubic meter.

Also, 1.33 billion people, 96% of the Indian population, experience PM2.5 levels more than seven times the WHO annual PM2.5 guideline. This trend is reflected in city-level data, with more than 66 percent of the country’s cities reporting annual averages more significant than 35 micrograms per cubic meter.

IQAir said the data utilized to create this report was aggregated from the global distribution of more than 30,000 regulatory air quality monitoring stations and low-cost air quality sensors operated by research institutions, governmental bodies, universities and educational facilities, non-profit, non-governmental organizations, private companies and citizen scientists.

The 2022 World Air Quality Report included data from 7,323 locations in 131 countries, regions, and territories. By 2023, those numbers had grown to 7,812 locations in 134 countries, regions, and territories.

Air pollution is the most significant environmental threat to human health, causing an estimated one in every nine deaths worldwide.

According to the WHO, air pollution is responsible for an estimated seven million premature deaths yearly.

Exposure to PM2.5 air pollution leads to and exacerbates numerous health conditions, including but not limited to asthma, cancer, stroke and lung disease.

Exposure to elevated levels of fine particles can impair cognitive development in children, lead to mental health issues, and complicate existing illnesses, including diabetes.

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