A man rides a rickshaw on a smoggy morning in New Delhi, India (Photo: REUTERS/Adnan Abidi/File Photo).


NEW DELHI was the world’s most polluted capital city in 2018, two groups monitoring air pollution said today (5) in a study of the amount of fine particulate matter known as PM2.5 in 61 capital cities around the world.

The Indian capital, home to more than 20 million people, was followed by the Bangladesh capital of Dhaka and Kabul, capital of Afghanistan, according to the study by IQ AirVisual, a Swiss-based group that gathers air-quality data globally, and Greenpeace.

New Delhi’s toxic air is caused by vehicle and industrial emissions, dust from building sites, smoke from the burning of rubbish and crop residue in nearby fields.

The city’s average annual concentration of PM2.5 in a cubic metre of air was 113.5 in 2018, the groups said in their report, more than double the level of Beijing, which averaged 50.9 during the year, making it the eighth most polluted in the world.

PM2.5, or particles of 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter, is so dangerous because it lodges deep in the lungs.

The World Health Organization sets a daily mean air quality guideline of 25 micrograms of PM2.5 per cubic metre of air.

India is also a home to 15 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world, the study said.

(Reuters)