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Air pollution in Indian cities: The Good, the bad, and the hopeful

How air pollution levels in Indian cities shifted from 2019-2023 in the Respiror Reports: Lucknow decreased, Chennai least polluted & more!

By Ground Report
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Air pollution in Indian cities: The Good, the bad, and the hopeful

This year, the levels of PM 2.5, a key air pollutant, have risen in four major metropolitan cities in India compared to the previous year. However, Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh, the largest state in the country, has seen a decrease in PM 2.5 levels. Interestingly, Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu, has been identified as the least polluted city, with a more than 23% drop in PM 2.5 levels compared to last year.

The analysis, named Respiror Reports, examined the presence of PM 2.5 in eight major capital cities of India from 2019 to 2023. These cities include Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Lucknow, Hyderabad, and Patna.

India’s diverse and dynamic environment poses significant challenges in terms of air pollution, which impacts the health and well-being of its citizens. The latest research by Respire Reports provides crucial insights into the changing air quality landscape in the country over the past five years.

PM 2.5 levels fluctuate in cities

The cities of Lucknow, Patna, Bengaluru, and Chennai have all seen a decrease in PM 2.5 levels between 2022 and 2023. Specifically, in the month of October, Lucknow and Patna experienced a decline in PM 2.5 levels compared to the same period in 2022.

In Lucknow, there was a significant 55.2% increase in PM 2.5 levels between 2019 and 2020. However, this was followed by a substantial decrease of 53.4% in 2021. In 2022, the levels increased again by 6.2%, but in 2023, there was a slight decline of 0.9%.

Between 2019 and 2020, PM 2.5 levels in Patna decreased by 14%. The decrease continued in 2021 with a further 36.7% fall. However, 2022 saw a sharp increase of 47.7%, but this surge was followed by an 11.1% decline in 2023.

In Bengaluru, there was a dramatic increase of 72.5% in PM 2.5 levels between 2019 and 2020. A slight decrease of 5.8% in 2021 followed this. In 2022, the levels jumped by 29.6%, but in 2023, there was a decline of 11.26%.

In Chennai, PM 2.5 levels increased by 43.2% between 2019 and 2020. However, in 2021, the levels declined by 27.8%. In 2022, there was a strong increase of 61.6%, but in 2023, the levels decreased by 23.7%. These fluctuations highlight the ongoing efforts to manage and improve air quality in these cities.

PM 2.5 levels fluctuate in cities

Some of the main points of this report are as follows:

Concerning Trends: The study reveals an upward trend in PM 2.5 levels in four major cities: Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Kolkata, compared to the previous year.

Delhi’s Persistent Crisis: Delhi, the nation’s capital, has been grappling with escalating air pollution since 2021. The PM 2.5 levels surpass both national and international safe limits, posing severe health risks for its inhabitants.

Regional Differences: While pollution levels rose in some cities, others like Lucknow, Patna, Bengaluru, and Chennai successfully reduced PM 2.5 levels, demonstrating the effectiveness of air quality improvement initiatives. Chennai emerged as the least polluted city, with PM 2.5 levels dropping by over 23% compared to last year.

Delhi’s Deteriorating Air Quality: Delhi’s PM 2.5 levels in October this year were higher than the previous year, marking a continuous increase since 2021. The city experienced a sharp 32% rise in PM 2.5 levels between 2019 and 2020, followed by a 43.7% drop in 2021. However, the levels have been on the rise in 2022 and 2023. In October 2023, PM 2.5 levels in Delhi were 3.7 times higher than the Central Pollution Control Board’s safe limit and 7.5 times higher than the World Health Organization’s safe limit.

Mumbai’s Pollution Levels: Mumbai has seen a steady rise in PM 2.5 levels from 2019 to 2023, leading to a significant deterioration in air quality. The city experienced a 42% increase in pollution last month compared to October of the previous year.

Hyderabad and Kolkata’s Air Quality: Both Hyderabad and Kolkata recorded an increase in PM 2.5 levels in October 2023 compared to 2022. Despite a significant decline in 2022, Hyderabad saw an 18.6% increase in 2023. Similarly, Kolkata, after a 33.1% decrease in 2022, registered a 40.2% increase in 2023.

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