By the Blouin News Science & Health staff

India desperate for a breath of fresh air

by in Environment.

New Delhi. Source: scrolleditorial/flickr

New Delhi. Source: scrolleditorial/flickr

On Monday India released an air pollution ranking list of all its cities with at least one million residents (73 in total). Mysuru, in the southern state of Karnatka, was declared India’s cleanest city, while Dhanbad in eastern Jharkhand took the title of dirtiest. The health consequences of the country’s debilitating air pollution are severe — a study published last week found that about 1.4 million people in India died of illnesses related to air pollution in 2013.

Air pollution is also a major problem in China, but burning coal is the main problem there, and the government has been transitioning people to use propane and natural gas instead. “But in India, a very significant number of the people still burn very poor wood and biomass fuels, cow dung, and other sources,” said Dan Greenbaum, president of the non-profit Health Effects Institute in Boston. “And that creates major exposures indoors to the mothers and children, for example, who are cooking or are near the stove,” he added. So while harmful air pollution often occurs in poor rural homes, poor urban homes fare the worst, with pollution both indoors and outside.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said last Thursday that Delhi, one of India’s most polluted …

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