The World Health Organization on Wednesday said that of the 15 cities with the highest level of dangerous PM2.5 particulate matter in the air, 14 are in India.
Nine out of 10 people around the globe are breathing polluted air, the study said, and air pollution is responsible for the deaths of 7 million people worldwide each year, most of them living in Asia and Africa. Of those deaths, 3.8 million were from indoor air pollution from unhealthy cook stoves, a huge problem in India.
Former perennial offender China, in response to citizen outrage, has taken steps to clean up its air, shuttering or reforming factories and reducing its coal consumption in favor of renewable energy. The moves helped improve air quality in Beijing and elsewhere but at a cost — many poor people were denied coal heat during winter or lost jobs.
The World Health Organization’s head of public health, Maria Neira, told the Reuters news agency that India should follow China’s lead.