Nearly seven million deaths every year can now be attributed to diseases that are directly related to air pollution, according to World Health Organisation estimates. Studies estimate that over 40 percent of Indians can lose up to nine years of life expectancy as a result of air pollution. With such an effect on global health from air pollution, the global health body recently updated its air pollutant guidelines. According to the new standards, the PM2.5 average annual concentrations should be less than 5 micrograms per meter cube even as the Indian standards are at 60 micrograms per meter cube. But many Indian cities struggle to even meet the much laxer Indian limits on pollutants. Due to high population, lax standards, and local weather patterns, Northern India is a hotbed of air pollutant activity. Here are 10 of India’s most air-polluted cities according to WHO standards. (Image: Reuters)
10 | Faridabad: Located on the outskirts of the capital New Delhi, and most populous city in the state of Haryana, Faridabad had an average of 83.3 µg/m³ (micrograms per meter cube) of PM2.5 pollutants in 2020. (Image: Reuters)
9 | Delhi: With an average PM2.5 concentration of 84.1 µg/m³ in 2020, the national capital of India is known as one of the worst cities in terms of air pollution in the world. (Image: AP)
8 | Lucknow: The capital of the most populous state in India, Lucknow had an average concentration of 86.2 µg/m³ PM2.5 pollutants. The city’s PM2.5 limit is nearly 30 µg/m³ higher than Indian standards. (Image: PTI)
7 | Kanpur: One of the most important industrial centres in Uttar Pradesh, Kanpur has often had the dubious honour of being one of the worst polluted cities in India. Kanpur had an average concentration of 89.1 µg/m³ for PM2.5 pollutants.
6 | Greater Noida: While many don’t realise that Greater Noida and Noida are twin cities, both are notoriously polluted as well. Greater Noida had an average concentration of 89.5 µg/m³ PM2.5 pollutants, compared to the 5 µg/m³ limit set by the WHO. (Image: Reuters)
5 | Noida: Just like its twin, Noida is one of the most polluted cities in India. The industrial urban centre had an average concentration of 94.3 µg/m³ for PM2.5 particles. (Image: Reuters)
4 | Bhiwadi: Close to the National Capital Territory, Bhiwadi is located in the Alwar district of Rajasthan. The developing city is no stranger to pollution, however, with an average concentration of 95.5 µg/m³ for PM2.5 pollutants.
3 | Bisrakh Jalalpur: A small village that is located less than 10 km away from the city of Greater Noida. While it may not emit pollutants, the village is subject to one of the worst air qualities in the region. Bisrakh had an average concentration for PM2.5 pollutants of 96 µg/m³.
2 | Bulandshahr: One of the major urban and industrial centres in Uttar Pradesh, local remittance and geographical conditions contribute directly to the city’s poor air quality. The city had an average concentration of 98.4 µg/m³ for PM2.5 pollutants. (Image: AP)
1 | Ghaziabad: Another part of the greater national capital region, the city of Ghaziabad had the worst air quality of any city in India. The city had an average concentration of 106.6 µg/m³ for PM2.5 pollutants, over 20 times the WHO limits. (Image: AP)