Environment and EcologyGeneral Studies III

The World Air Quality Report 2020


It is a report on air quality released by Swiss organization, IQAir.

  • The global cities ranking report is based on PM2.5 data from 106 countries, which is measured by ground-based monitoring stations, most of which are operated by government agencies.

Key Highlights:

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  • Delhi remained the most polluted capital city in the world
  • The whole, had improved its average annual PM2.5 (particulate matter) levels in 2020 than in 2019, according to a report from IQ Air, a Swiss air quality technology company specialising in protection against airborne pollutants, and developing air quality monitoring and air cleaning products.
  • Delhi’s PM2.5 concentration level, based primarily on data from the Central Pollution Control Board, was 84.1 μg/m³ in 2020, a 15% improvement from the 98.6 μg/m³ recorded in 2019 when the city was ranked the world’s most polluted capital for the second straight year.
  • Average pollution levels were 51.9 μg/m³ in 2020 compared with 58.1 μg/m³ in 2019, making India the third most polluted country in 2020, unlike in 2019, when its air was the fifth most noxious.
  • 22 of the world’s 30 most polluted cities including Delhi are in India.
  • The eight Indian cities in the top 10 list are — Bulandshahar, Bisrakh Jalalpur, Noida, Greater Noida, Kanpur, Lucknow (all in UP), Bhiwari in Rajasthan and Delhi.
  • Major sources of India’s air pollution include transportation, biomass burning for cooking, electricity generation, industry, construction, waste burning and episodic agricultural burning.

India ranked third

Bangladesh and Pakistan were the countries in 2020 with worse average PM2.5 levels than India, said the report. China ranked 11th in the latest report, a deterioration from the 14th in the previous edition of the report.

In the 2020 report, 106 countries were evaluated. The pollution levels are weighted averages, meaning that the population of a country influences the pollution values reported.

In 2020, 84% of all monitored countries observed air quality improvements. Other improvements in major cities over 2019 included a 11% drop in Beijing, a 13% drop in Chicago, a 17% drop in Paris and a 16% drop in London and Seoul.

However, of the 106 monitored countries, only 24 met the World Health Organization annual guidelines for PM 2.5, the report underlined.

When ranked by cities, Hotan in China was the most polluted, with an average concentration of 110.2 μg/m³, followed by Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh at 106. Of the 15 most polluted cities, 13 were in India.

In spite of being a pandemic year, 2020 was a particularly severe for agricultural burning. Farm fires in Punjab increased 46.5% over 2019.

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