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India Ranked Third Most Polluted Country in the World: IQAir Report

Begusarai in Bihar, emerged as the most polluted city, recording an alarming PM2.5 concentration of 118.9 micrograms per cubic meter.

Saurabh Shukla
India Ranked Third Most Polluted Country in World, IQAir Report Finds (Photo Source: Pexels)
India Ranked Third Most Polluted Country in World, IQAir Report Finds (Photo Source: Pexels)

India has been ranked as the third-most polluted country in the world in 2023, after Bangladesh and Pakistan, as per the latest findings from the Swiss air quality monitoring organization, IQAir.

The 'World Air Quality Report 2023' revealed that India recorded an average annual PM2.5 concentration of 54.4 micrograms per cubic meter, setting its position as one of the poorest air quality countries  out of 134 nations assessed. This ranking represents a slight deterioration from the previous year when India was placed eighth, with an average PM2.5 concentration of 53.3 micrograms per cubic meter.

The report, which collected data from over 30,000 air quality monitoring stations across 7,812 locations worldwide, highlighted a concerning trend for India. A staggering 42 out of the top 50 most polluted cities listed in the report were located in India, highlighting the severity of the air quality crisis gripping the nation.

Begusarai, a city situated in Bihar, emerged as the most polluted metropolitan area of 2023, recording an average PM2.5 concentration of 118.9 micrograms per cubic meter. This marked a significant increase from the previous year's average of 19.7 micrograms per cubic meter. Similarly, Guwahati experienced a doubling of its PM2.5 concentration from 51 to 105.4 micrograms per cubic meter between 2022 and 2023. The capital city of Delhi, known for its persistent struggles with air pollution, witnessed a modest increase in PM2.5 concentration from 89.1 to 92.7 micrograms per cubic meter during the same period.

Beyond India, the report disclosed other concerning revelations. Bangladesh, with an average PM2.5 concentration of 79.9 micrograms per cubic meter, topped the list of the most polluted countries globally, followed closely by Pakistan. Moreover, of the top ten most polluted cities worldwide nine were located in India, illustrating the severity of the air quality crisis gripping the country.

However, among the findings, there were gleams of hope. Seven countries, including Australia, Estonia, and Finland, managed to meet the annual PM2.5 guideline set by the World Health Organization (WHO), indicating successful efforts in curbing air pollution. Nevertheless, Africa continues to grapple with inadequate access to air quality data, with a third of its population still lacking reliable information.

The report also highlighted developments in other regions. China, for instance, witnessed a 6.3% increase in PM2.5 levels, ending a streak of five consecutive annual declines. Additionally, for the first time, Canada emerged as the most polluted country in Northern America, with all 13 of the region's most polluted cities located within its borders.

As nations grapple with the multifaceted challenges posed by air pollution, urgent and concerted efforts are needed to mitigate its adverse effects on public health and the environment.

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