Why it’s urgent to clean up New Delhi’s polluted air?

Publication - March 7, 2015
The Central Pollution Control Board reported Delhi’s average PM2.5 level in 2013 as 153μg/m3, based on hourly measurements at 6 different stations. This is 15 times the World Health Organization guideline and 3.8 times the national standard. Delhi’s average is also 80% higher than the average in Beijing, where pollution regularly makes national and international headlines and has led to exceptionally strong action to limit use of cars, industrial emissions and emissions from coal in particular

Unlike Delhi, Beijing’s continuous monitoring stations have live, downloadable data for all days. The monitoring stations run by Delhi Pollution control Committee (DPCC) had 56 days in the year 2014 for which no data was available. Three out of the six stations by the DPCC which monitor the air quality in the city do not have accessible data. Based on the available data for PM2.5 from three locations: R.K.Puram, Mandir Marg and Punjabi Bagh, we have made the health risk estimations for each of these areas in Delhi and have made comparisons with the average pollution levels for Beijing. These estimates are based on the methodology developed by the Global Burden of Disease Study, 2010[1]. Our estimates show an increased risk in lung cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and Ischaemic heart disease in these areas to be several times higher than that of Beijing. Please refer to the graph on increase in health risks for Delhiites. 

The recent study published in the Atmospheric Pollution Research Journal, an international journal on air pollution and atmospheric processes, the Nation Capital Region in Delhi faces the highest health risks from air pollution. The journal cited a rapid increase in respiratory and cardiovascular mortality in the area. See Table Below - 

Table showing the increased health risks in the NCR Area between 2000-2010[1]




Total Mortality



Cardiovascular Mortality



Respiratory Moratality



Hospital Admission due to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease