World Bank reported that China remains number one on the list of countries with the most air pollution. It is is significantly much more polluted than India, with levels of hazardous PM 2.5 particles.
Who reported that China was seven times more than the annual mean recommended. China’s mean annual exposure to PM 2.5 particles was a 73 micro-grams per cubic meter while India had an annual mean of 32 micro-grams per cubic meter, still close to the global average of PM 2.5 levels.
Two senior directors of the World bank expressed their concern in their foreword to The Little Green Data Book 2015.They revealed that data shows that many parts of the world are facing increasing exposure to air pollution at alarming rates.
Exposure to ambient PM 2.5 pollution in 2010 resulted in more than 3.2 million premature deaths globally.
WHO declared PM2.5 as a group 1 carcinogen, similar to the likes of asbestos and tobacco, in October 2013.
Particulate matter, or PM, is the term for particles found in the air, including dust, dirt, soot, smoke, and liquid droplets. Particles can be suspended in the air for long periods of time. Some particles are large or dark enough to be seen as soot or smoke. Others are so small that individually they can only be detected with an electron microscope.
Many manmade and natural sources emit PM directly or emit other pollutants that react in the atmosphere to form PM. These solid and liquid particles come in a wide range of sizes.
Particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter (PM10) pose a health concern because they can be inhaled into and accumulate in the respiratory system. Particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter (PM2.5) are referred to as “fine” particles and are believed to pose the greatest health risks. Because of their small size (approximately 1/30th the average width of a human hair), fine particles can lodge deeply into the lungs, as reported by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
Warnings that the exposure to short-term spikes of such particles can cause death, strokes, heart failures and asthma attacks, came from The American Lung Association.
India’s environmental rankings fared better than China’s in other categories as well. India’s energy use and carbon emissions per capita were less than one-third of those in China. India’s PM 2.5 air pollution average is on par with other fast-growing Asian countries.
WHO data showed that air quality decreases when countries evolve from lower income levels to becoming more affluent.
Air only starts to improve once countries attain high-income status, which the World Bank defines as having gross national income per capita of US$12,746 (S$17,075) or more.