World's most polluted capital cities revealed as Delhi is ranked worst

A cyclist protects himself with a handkerchief against air-pollution as he rides through smog at ITO Bridge in New Delhi

A cyclist protects himself with a handkerchief against air-pollution as he rides through smog at ITO Bridge in New Delhi | PTI

New Delhi was the world's most polluted capital city in 2018, two groups monitoring air pollution said on Tuesday in a study of the amount of fine particulate matter known as PM2.5 in 61 capital cities around the world.

India racks up health-care costs and productivity losses from pollution of as much as 8.5 per cent of gross domestic product, according to the World Bank.

According to the study, Gurugram, a suburb of the Indian capital New Delhi, is the world's most polluted city.

India is home to 15 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world, they said. Since many cities, particularly in Africa, do not have up-to-date public air quality information, the actual number of cities exceeding PM2.5 thresholds is expected to be much higher, the report authors said.

In a statement released with the figures, the executive director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Yeb Sano said, "This has enormous impacts, on our health and on our wallets".

The WHO global air pollution database which listed 14 Indian cities among the 15 most polluted cities in the world a year ago, was a matter of shame for the country and its government.

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The report was published by IQ AirVisual and Greenpeace which calculated the average amount of PM2.5 air pollution in each city over the course of 2018 using publicly available records updated in real time.

The report also stated that Bangladesh, on average, was the most polluted nation, followed closely by Pakistan and India.

China made marked progress in its usually dismal pollution levels, with average concentrations falling by 12 per cent in 2018 from the previous year, according to the data.

In two months of past year, the AQI in Gurugram - as measured by levels of fine particulate matter known as PM 2.5 - was above 200.

The data for the study was gathered from a wide range of government sources.

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