Tuesday, February 21, 2017

State of Air 2017: China, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh Among Most Polluted

The 2.5 micron particulate matter (PM2.5) pollution of air accounts for the world's highest number of pollution-related premature deaths in China and South Asia, according to a report titled "State of Global Air 2017".

Source: State of Global Air 2017

PM2.5 Pollution Deaths:

More than half of the 4.2 million deaths attributed to PM2.5 pollution occur in just two countries: India and China. The next two countries accounting for the highest pollution-related mortality are Russia with 136,900, Pakistan with 135,100 and Bangladesh with 122,400 deaths in 2015, according to the report.

India and Bangladesh experienced some of the largest increases in PM2.5- attributable mortality, on the order of 50% to 60%. India (1.09 million deaths) now approaches China (1.11 million deaths) in the number of deaths attributable to PM2.5.

Source: State of Global Air 2017
Nearly all (86%) of the most extreme concentrations (above 75 µg/m3 ) were experienced by populations in China, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

Among the world’s 10 most populous countries and the EU, the biggest increase (14% to 25%) in seasonal average population-weighted concentrations of ozone over the last 25 years were experienced in China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Brazil.

The report said decreases in exposure in Russia, Brazil, Indonesia, and Pakistan were offset by population growth and population aging, resulting in net increases in attributable mortality.

In the United States and the European Union, reductions in exposure over the past 25 years have offset the contributions of population growth and aging, resulting in net decreases in PM2.5-attributable mortality (by 17% and 22%, respectively).

A similar pattern contributed to a net decrease of 34% in PM2.5-attributable mortality in Nigeria, although the reductions in exposure were likely due to factors different from those in the United States and EU. Within the EU, this pattern held in all member countries except Italy, Greece, and Malta, where attributable mortality increased from 1990 to 2015, according to the report.

Haze Under Himalayas Source: NASA

South Asia's Vulnerability:

South Asia is particularly susceptible to pollutants that hang in the air for extended periods of time. The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has recently released images of dull gray haze hovering over northern India and Pakistan, and parts of Bangladesh. It is believed that emissions from solid fuel burning, industrial pollutants and farm clearing fires get trapped along the southern edge of the Himalayas. NASA Earth Observatory explains this phenomenon as follows:

"The haze visible in this image likely results from a combination of agricultural fires, urban and industrial pollution, and a regional temperature inversion. Most of the time, air higher in the atmosphere is cooler than air near the planet’s surface, and this configuration allows warm air to rise from the ground and disperse pollutants. In the wintertime, however, cold air frequently settles over northern India, trapping warmer air underneath. The temperature inversion traps pollutants along with warm air at the surface, contributing to the buildup of haze."

Urgent Actions Needed: 

South Asian governments need to act to deal with rapidly rising particulate pollution jointly. Some of the steps they need to take are as follows:

1. Reduce the use of solid fuels such as cow dung, wood and coal to limit particulate matter released into the atmosphere.

2. Impose higher emission standards on industries and vehicles through regulations.

3. Increase forest cover by planting more trees.

4. Encourage the use of more renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, hydro, etc.

The cost of acting now may seem high but it will turn out out to be a lot more expensive to deal with extraordinary disease burdens resulting from rising air pollution.

Summary:

South Asia accounts for more than a third of all PM2.5 pollution related deaths in the world. The sources of particulate pollution range from solid fuel burning to crop clearing fires and use of dirty fuels in vehicles and industries. Recognition of the growing problem is urgent. Failure to act could be very costly in terms of human health.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan's Response to Climate Change

Diwali Pollution Warnings in India

Cow Dung Sales in India

India's Air Most Toxic

Pak Entrepreneur Recycles Trash into Energy and Fertilizer

Bhopal Disaster

Environmental Pollution in India

Rising Population, Depleting Resources

India Leads the World in Open Defecation

Heavy Disease Burdens in South Asia

2 comments:

Abdul said...

Dhaka has ranked second on a global list of cities with worst air pollution, which claims 122,400 lives in Bangladesh a year.

Delhi tops the list, while Karachi and Beijing stand third and fourth, according to the State of Global Air Report 2017.

Air pollution is the leading environmental cause of death worldwide, and 92 percent of the world's population lives in areas with unhealthy air, mentions the report launched by Boston-based Health Effects Institute (HEI) on Tuesday.

India and Bangladesh experienced the steepest increase in air pollution levels between 1990 and 2015, it says.

Bangladesh, India and Pakistan had fine particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5) attributable rates five to 10 times the lowest rates found in the US and Japan, shows the report.

PM2.5 is an air pollutant that becomes a concern for people's health when its levels are high in the air. This tiny particle reduces visibility and causes the air to appear hazy when its levels are elevated.

Long-term exposure to fine particulate matter -- the most significant element of air pollution -- contributed to 4.2 million premature deaths and to a loss of 103 million healthy years of life in 2015, making air pollution the fifth biggest cause of death among all health risks, including smoking and high blood pressure.

China and India together were responsible for over half of the total global attributable deaths, shows the report.

“We are seeing increasing air pollution problems worldwide, and this new report and website details why that air pollution is a major contributor to early death,” said Dan Greenbaum, president of the HEI, which prepared the report in cooperation with the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, and the University of British Columbia.

The study finds that increasing exposure and a growing and ageing population mean India now rivals China in having the highest air pollution health burdens in the world, with both countries facing some 1.1 million early deaths from air pollution in 2015.

Use of solid fuel, coal-fired power plants, and open burning of agricultural and other waste are among the most important contributors to outdoor air pollution.

Among the 10 most populous countries and also those in the European Union, Bangladesh and India now have the highest exposures to PM2.5, having experienced the steepest increase since 2010.

http://www.thedailystar.net/backpage/dhaka-2nd-among-cities-worst-air-pollution-1362556

Anonymous said...

These metrics warrant revision.

South Asia,Middle East,Central Asia has a natural high base level of particulate matter much higher than cold and damp europe.

It hasn't stopped civilization much superior to Europe for most of human history in these places.

Also I wonder if unemployed people in places like Detroit appreciate the cleaner air now that most of the 'polluting' jobs have been transferred to places like China,India etc leaving them with little more than fresh air and government handouts to survive on.