Pakistan second most polluted country in South Asia after India
IQAir says 21 out of the top 30 most polluted cities are located in India. Five of the top 30 most polluted cities in the world are located in Pakistan. ISLAMABAD: Latest data compiled by IQAir, published in the 2019 World Air Quality Report and the most polluted cities rankings, show that Pakistan is the second most polluted country in South Asia, after India.
In South Asia, Indian and Pakistani cities again dominated the world’s most polluted cities for particulate pollution (PM2.5) in 2019.
“Twenty-one out of the top 30 most polluted cities are located in India,” IQAir said on its website. “Five of the top 30 most polluted cities are located in Pakistan.”
“While the new coronavirus is dominating international headlines, a silent killer is contributing to nearly 7 million more deaths a year: air pollution,” IQAir CEO Frank Hammes said. “Through compiling and visualizing data from thousands of air quality monitoring stations, the 2019 World Air Quality Report gives new context to the world’s leading environmental health threat.”
Chinese cities achieved a 9% average decrease in PM2.5 levels in 2019, after a 12% decrease in 2018. Still, 98% of cities exceeded WHO guidelines and 53% of cities exceed China’s less stringent national targets, IQAir said. In the last decade Beijing has more than halved its annual PM2.5 levels and this year dropped out of the ranking’s top 200 most polluted cities.
South Korea was the most polluted country for PM2.5 among Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development countries during 2019. Air quality levels in key cities have remained relatively stagnant over recent years.
While cities in India, on average, exceed the WHO target for annual PM2.5 exposure by 500%, IQAir said, national air pollution decreased by 20% from 2018 to 2019, with 98% of cities experiencing improvements.
“These improvements are believed to be largely a result of economic slow-down,” IQAir said.
In Southeast Asia, in a historic shift reflecting the region’s rapid industrialization, urban hubs Jakarta and Hanoi overtook Beijing for the first time, among the world’s most PM2.5 polluted capital cities.