Two Indian cities, Gwalior in MP and Raipur in Chhatisgarh, have reached alarming pollution levels which can put their residents' lives at high risk. The latest findings by the World Health Organization reveal that of 20 cities with the dirtiest air quality, 13 belong to India. Gwalior and Raipur are among top four due to high suspended particulate matter in air, which is more than thrice the acceptable levels.
Delhi has an average 153 micrograms of small particulates, known as PM2.5 (fine particulate matter with a maximum 2.5 micrometres diameter) per cubic metre. The WHO study of 1,600 cities in 91 countries finds that air pollution has worsened in poor countries, putting city-dwellers at higher risk of diseases. Air quality in most cities fails to meet the WHO safety guidelines as only 12% cities have air quality in line with these norms. Fossil fuels, vehicular emissionsl, inefficient energy use, cooking and heating have contributed to this alarming increase in air pollution.
The WHO has called for greater awareness of the health risks due to air pollution, effective air pollution mitigation policies and a close monitoring of the pollution situation worldwide.