Greenpeace India stated Wednesday that air pollution is responsible for an estimated 57,000 premature deaths in Delhi in 2020, disclosing that the city’s yearly average air pollution levels exceeded the WHO’s 2005 air quality recommendations (AQG) by roughly eight times and the revised AQGs by 17.4 times.
According to Greenpeace India’s analysis of the World Health Organization’s revised AQGs, at least 79 of the world’s most populous cities will violate 2005 WHO annual mean PM 2.5 standards in 2020.
“Greenpeace India’s analysis of PM 2.5 data aggregated by IQAir found that at least 79 of the world’s 100 most populous cities breached the outgoing WHO annual mean PM 2.5 guidelines in 2020. In Delhi, city-wide annual average air pollution levels exceeded 2005 WHO guidelines by nearly eightfold in 2020, the highest margin of all cities in the dataset. Greenpeace researchers estimate that 57,000 premature deaths in Delhi during 2020 can be attributed to air pollution,” it said.
Greenpeace stated that PM 2.5 data for 2020 was unavailable in eight of the 100 cities due to a lack of government transparency or monitoring. According to IQAir data, the remaining 13 cities fulfilled the criteria on a city-wide scale, although hotspots within all 100 cities likely exceeded the guidelines locally, such as around busy highways or industry, it added. For the first time in 15 years, the WHO updated its air quality guidelines on Wednesday.
According to Greenpeace India, the new standards are based on robust scientific evidence of the harm that air pollution does to human health and hence recommend new air quality levels based on reducing concentrations of critical air pollutants.
The annual PM2.5 mean has been reduced to 5 g/m3 from 10 g/m3 in 2005, according to the new recommendations. Similarly, the yearly mean for PM10 has been reduced from 20 g/m3 to 15 g/m3, and NO2 has been reduced from 40 g/m3 to 10 g/m3.
Greenpeace India’s senior climate campaigner Avinash Chanchal remarked in response to the release of new recommendations, “India has economically viable tools to solve the air pollution challenge.”
According to Greenpeace India, Mumbai’s annual PM2.5 trends in 2020 exceeded WHO’s new air quality criteria of 5 ug/m3, Kolkata 9.4, Chennai 5.4, Hyderabad 7 treble, and Ahmedabad exceeded 9.8 fold.