Delhi: Close To 15,000 Prematurely Died In 2016 Due To Particulate Matters In Air, Reveals New Study
A recent study conducted by Indian researchers shows the dismal condition of air quality in Indian cities, especially Delhi and its consequences on human health. The research shows that in Delhi, close to 15,000 people died prematurely in 2016 owing to illness related to fine particulate matters in the air. The trio – Kamal Jyoti Maji, Mohit Arora & Anil Kumar in their study, assessed such pollution-related deaths in 13 megacities in South Asia and China.
Hindustan Times reported that the study which has been accepted for publication in Elsevier’s Process Safety and Environmental Protection journal states that most of the deaths related to PM 2.5 in 2016, were reported from Beijing (18,200), Shanghai (17,600) and Delhi (14,800). The premature deaths 10.5, 7.3, 4.8 and 4.8 thousand in Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore and Chennai respectively. Moreover, the authors of the study state that this is the first time that illnesses associated with PM 2.5 have been taken into consideration in cities like Bangalore and Chennai.
What is PM 2.5?
Delhi’s air is not polluted as much with poisonous gases as it’s with really tiny particles known as PM 2.5. Moreover, its levels are consistently 16-20 times higher than the prescribed standard. PM stands for particulate matter, while the number refers to the size of the particles. So, PM 2.5 is like extremely fine dust whose particles are just 2.5 microns wide — that’s thirty times smaller than the width of a human hair. The tiny size makes it harder to prevent PM 2.5 from getting into the body, making it deadlier.
According to the United States’ Environment Protection Agency, a PM 2.5 particle, depending on where it’s emitted from, could contain compounds of any of these four materials:
- Carbon – from cars, trucks, waste burning
- Nitrate – from cars, trucks, thermal power generation
- Sulphate – from thermal power generation
- Crustal – suspended soil and metals
While individual particles obviously can’t be seen without specialized equipment, large amounts are visible as haze or smog.
PM 2.5 is even more dangerous because of its small size which makes it easier for the particles to reach lungs and therefore create respiratory complications, worsen asthma or heart conditions. According to the World Health Organisation exposure to PM2.5 reduces a person’s life expectancy by an average of 8.6 months. Even though WHO says PM2.5 level mustn’t exceed 25 mg/cubic metre, India has relaxed the limit to 60.
Plans to tackle air pollution in Delhi
However, the Environmental Ministry in Delhi is launching three pilot projects in 2018 to try and curb the menace of air pollution. NDTV reported that ahead of the critical months November and December, three pilot projects- mounting filters on buses, using dust separation chemical sprays and installing equipment to suck in particulate matters.
The ministry also said that National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) is most likely to be finalised by the end of July and then sent to states to curb the problem of air pollution.