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Move over Beijing, New Delhi has the world's worst air pollution

Leeanna McLean
Digital Reporter

Wednesday, April 15, 2015, 12:40 GMT - New Delhi has been dubbed the worst city for air pollution on Earth.

According to air quality levels measured in 2014 by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1,600 different cities around the globe, the Indian capital city of New Delhi was found to be the worst. The WHO indicates the air pollution is 10 times higher than acceptable standards. 

The city was found to have the highest levels of particulate matter, also known as PM 2.5, known to be most harmful to human health. PM refers to small solid or liquid particles floating in the air. These particles can be made up of different substances, including carbon, sulphur, nitrogen and metal compounds. 

Cancer, heart disease and other chronic respiratory problems can all be an outcome of traffic-related air pollution. Reports indicate PM levels were found to be 50 percent higher on Delhi's roads during rush hour than during ambient air quality readings.

"Delhi is a very green city," Kamal Meattle, a Delhi-based air pollution activist told CNN. "But even the greenest areas of Delhi have extreme pollution levels."

Experts say the city's burning of bio-mass, industry emissions and coal-powered power stations can all be attributed to high levels of air pollution. According to CNN, there are roughly 8.5 million registered vehicles in the city and 1,400 cars are added to the city's streets each day. 

A national Air Quality Index (AQI) was launched recently by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The AQI is able to monitor pollution levels in real-time across major urban cities. New Delhi is one of 10 cities where data is available. 

Last week The National Green Tribunal announced measures to try to combat air pollution in Delhi including an attempt to ban diesel-powered vehicles older than 10 years off the city's streets. 


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