New Delhi and Varanasi are among the 14 Indian cities that figure in a list of 20 most polluted cities in the world in terms of PM2.5 levels in 2016.
According to a data released by the World Health Organisation (WHO), Kanpur, Faridabad, Gaya, Patna, Lucknow, Agra, Muzaffarpur, Srinagar, Gurgaon, Jaipur, Patiala and Jodhpur followed by Ali Subah Al-Salem in Kuwait and a few cities in China and Mongolia. These cities were listed in the category of PM2.5 pollutants.
In terms of PM10 levels, 13 cities in India figure among the 20 most polluted cities of the world in 2016. The WHO has called upon member-countries in its Southeast Asia region to aggressively address the double burden of household and ambient (outdoor) air pollution, saying the region, which comprises India, accounts for 34% or 2.4 million of the seven million premature deaths caused by household and ambient air pollution together globally every year.
The PM2.5 includes pollutants like sulfate, nitrate and black carbon, which pose the greatest risk to human health.
WHO’s global urban air pollution database measured the levels of fine particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5) from more than 4,300 cities in 108 countries, according to which ambient air pollution alone caused some 4.2 million deaths in 2016, while household air pollution from cooking with polluting fuels and technologies caused an estimated 3.8 million deaths in the same period.