March 17, 2021 12:37:15 am
Mumbai had an annual average PM 2.5 concentration of 41.3 micrograms/cubic metre, which is nearly four times above the WHO limit, according to IQAir, a Swiss group that measures air quality levels based on concentration of Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5. In the last one year, there was improvement in the annual average of PM 2.5 for the city, which was 45.3 µg/m3 in 2019.
India was home to 35 of the world’s 50 most polluted cities, according to IQAir’s 2020 World Air Quality Report, which gathered data for 106 countries. The findings were based on the country’s annual average of PM 2.5 — airborne particles less than 2.5 microns in diameter.
According to the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, PM 2.5 is one of the major pollutants contributing to air pollution in the city. Prolonged exposure to PM 2.5 can lead to deadly diseases, including cancer and cardiac problems.
The data reveals that December 2020 saw the highest monthly average concentration of PM 2.5 — at 70.6 µg/m3. The city records high pollution level in winter season (December and January), while the lowest air pollution levels are recorded in September i.e., post-monsoon.
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As traffic congestion was minimal during the lockdown the last year, the lowest PM 2.5 monthly average was recorded in June at 15.9 µg/m3. PM 2.5 levels below 25 µg/m3 were recorded for five months i.e., May to September 2020, shows the report.
Despite an 11% reduction in the annual average of PM 2.5 levels due to nationwide lockdown due to the Covid 19 pandemic, India emerged as the world’s third most polluted country after Bangladesh and Pakistan. “Air pollution in India is still dangerously high,” the report said.
In 2020, New Delhi’s average annual concentration of PM 2.5 in a cubic metre of air was 84.1, the study said, more than double the level of Beijing, which averaged 37.5 during the year, making it the 14th most polluted city in the world. In 2020, South Asia endured some of the world’s worst air quality on record, the report said.
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