Air Pollution India

One City With More Air Pollution than Beijing

Jan 29, 2014 • 334 Views
EST. TIME TO READ: 4 minutes

By Madeleine Vance, guest blogger and student at Kent Place School.

On January 17th, the smog in Beijing was so thick that the sunrise was virtually played on television screens around the city. Around the same time, air pollution levels were so dangerous that Beijing’s government administered public health warnings, closed four major highways, and so alarmed the citizens that they purchased masses of air filters and face masks. 

A day like that in New Delhi? Average.

Beijing is generally known for its major air pollution issues, but new studies have shown that New Delhi’s daily pollution figures are far more dangerous than Beijing’s. While the government in Beijing takes major precautions when air pollution levels pass above a safe amount, New Delhi’s government provides few alerts to their people. Despite being a city with one of the most buzzing news media sources and bubbling twitter communities, New Delhi’s population lacks awareness of their dangerous air.

Beijing’s government has increased the amount of pollution warnings and recommended precautions for their citizens with the help of the United States Embassy, but New Delhi’s government remains opaque with their people on the issue. In mid-January (around the time of the LED sunrise), the US Embassy sent out warnings that the amount of harmful fine particulate matter (PM2.5) had surpassed 500 micrograms per cubic meter for the first time in 2014. While monitors displayed this warning for just a few days in Beijing, the rest of the month’s pollution remained around 227 micrograms. In New Delhi, average pollution levels were almost double of Beijing’s at around 473 micrograms. This is 44 percent higher than last year. The World Health Organization recommends that daily exposure should be limited to just 25 micrograms. 

Beijing’s urban population has greatly expressed public health concerns, especially for children, causing government officials to declare decreasing pollution as a priority. In New Delhi, pollution is not as important, especially after India’s environmental minister quit in December after being criticized for suppressing industrial projects and blamed for harming the economy. The new minister has approved many construction projects which will all considerably add to pollution levels. It has also been discovered in recent studies that New Delhiites lack awareness and incentive to address the pollution issues, and that the environment has contributed to Indians’ weak lungs. Many wealthier Indians have considered emigrating out of the country to a cleaner environment after hearing stories of children and elderly having died or have to have consistent breathing treatments.

India’s Ministry of Environment took measures to reduce harmful emissions in the 1990’s by introducing public transportation options, emission requirements, and a pollution tax. A subway system was also built recently to attract people away from traveling on congested highways long distances to work. Alternative fuel vehicles were also introduced, but come at a high cost to a country with a larger low-income population.

Prepared by the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Columbia’s Policy Center for International Earth Science Information Network, the Environmental Performance Index (EPI) has an Air Quality component. Based on the following air quality ranking, India has better air than China.

EPI Air Quality Country Ranking 2014:

Country Country Country
URUGUAY 1 BOTSWANA 60 KENYA 121
SEYCHELLES 1 MEXICO 62 SLOVAKIA 122
MAURITIUS 1 AZERBAIJAN 63 NIGERIA 123
PALAU 1 KYRGYZSTAN 64 VANUATU 124
GRENADA 1 UAE 65 ZAMBIA 125
ANTIGUA & BARBUDA 1 GREECE 66 SYRIA 126
BARBADOS 1 CYPRUS 67 SRI LANKA 127
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO 8 TONGA 68 POLAND 128
DOMINICA 9 LITHUANIA 69 CHAD 129
ARGENTINA 10 JAPAN 70 HUNGARY 130
ALGERIA 11 UKRAINE 71 SOLOMON ISLANDS 131
VENEZUELA 12 KIRIBATI 72 BELGIUM 132
TUNISIA 12 SAUDI ARABIA 73 GHANA 133
MOROCCO 14 TURKEY 74 GAMBIA 134
SINGAPORE 15 PERU 75 HAITI 135
ICELAND 15 PARAGUAY 76 BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA 136

NEW ZEALAND

15 SENEGAL 77 BURKINA FASO 137
AUSTRALIA 15 HONDURAS 78 TIMOR-LESTE 137
MALTA 15 JORDAN 79 TAJIKISTAN 139
IRELAND 15 LUXEMBOURG 80 ROMANIA 140
BAHAMAS 15 NICARAGUA 81 MOZAMBIQUE 141
FINLAND 15 SWAZILAND 82 TANZANIA 142
NORWAY 15 NAMIBIA 82 ALBANIA 143
TURKMENISTAN 24 YEMEN 84 EGYPT 144
ECUADOR 25 PHILIPPINES 85 THAILAND 145
PORTUGAL 26 BELASRUS 86 GUINEA 145
COSTA RICA 27 ITALY 87 MALAWI 147
CANADA 28 MAURITANIA 88 IRAQ 148
BRAZIL 29 GUATEMALA 89 NIGER 149
GUYANA 30 LESOTHO 90 BENIN 150
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 30 ISRAEL 91 LIBERIA 151
SPAIN 32 UZBEKISTAN 92 MADAGASCAR 151
SWEDEN 33 ANGOLA 93 SIERRE LEONE 151
LIBYA 34 GERANY 94 MALI 151
CUBA 35 ERITREA 95 GUINEA-BISSAU 151
OMAN 36 SLOVENIA 96 TOGO 156
CHILE 37 ZIMBABWE 97 SERBIA 157
USA 38 LEBANON 98 SOMALIA 158
JAMAICA 39 BULGARIA 99 ETHIOPIA 159
LATVIA 40 QATAR 100 UGANGA 160
ESTONIA 41 CROATIA 101 CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC 161
BELIZE 42 ARMENIA 102 CAMBODIA 162
SURINAME 42 SWITZERLAND 103 MACEDONIA 163
KAZAKHSTAN 44 AUSTRIA 104 RWANDA 164
UNITED KINGDOM 45 TAIWAN 105 AFGHANISTAN 165
COLOMBIA 46 COMOROS 106

SOUTH KOREA

166
BRUNEI DARUSSALAM 47 MONTENEGRO 107 KUWAIT 167
SOUTH AFRICA 48 MONGOLIA 108 BURUNDI 168
RUSSIA 49 NETHERLANDS 109 DEM. REP.  CONGO 169
PANAMA 50 GEORGIA 110 VIETNAM 170
DJIBOUTI 51 PAPUA NEW GUINEA 111 MYANMAR 171
DENMARK 52 INDONESIA 112 BHUTAN 172
EL SALVADOR 53 BAHRAIN 113 LAOS 173
GABON 54 EQUATORIAL GUINEA 114 INDIA 174
MALAYSIA 55 CZECH REPUBLIC 115 PAKISTAN 175
FRANCE 56 COTE D’IVOIRE 116 CHINA 176
CAPE VERDE 57 CONGO 117 NEPAL 177
IRAN 58 CAMEROON 118 BANGLASDEH 178
BOLIVIA 59 MOLDOVA 119
FIJI 60 SUDAN 120
*Ranking based on  “Household Air Quality” and “Average Exposure to PM2.2” and “PM2.5 Exceedance.”

Sources and Resources: The NY Times and The 2014 EPI.

 

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