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Air Quality Report 2023

Facts for Prelims (FFP)


Source: Frontline Magazine

  Context: Only 10 countries had healthy air quality in 2023, with 9% of global cities meeting WHO guidelines for PM2.5 pollution, as per the Air Quality Report 2023, released by Swiss organisation IQAi


Key Findings:

  • The most affected areas were in West Asia, Africa, and Central and South Asia, while French Polynesia, Mauritius, and Iceland had the least pollution.
  • India was ranked third worst globally after Bangladesh and Pakistan in PM2.5 pollution
  • New Delhi tops the list as the world’s most polluted capital city, while Bihar’s Begusarai is the most polluted metropolitan area.
  • Over 1 billion people in India experience PM2.5 levels exceeding WHO recommendations.


About PM2.5:

It refers to atmospheric particulate matter with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres, about 3% the width of a human hair. These particles can penetrate deep into the lungs and bloodstream, leading to serious health issues like lung cancer, heart disease, and stroke with prolonged exposure.  PM2.5 pollution is primarily caused by the burning of fossil fuels.


In the context of WHO Air Quality Guidelines, consider the following statements: (UPSC 2022)

  1. The 24-hour mean of PM2.5 should not exceed 15 µg/m3 and the annual mean of PM2.5 should not exceed 5 µg/m3.
  2. In a year, the highest levels of ozone pollution occur during periods of inclement weather.
  3. PM10 can penetrate the lung barrier and enter the bloodstream.
  4. Excessive ozone in the air can trigger asthma.


Which of the statements given above are correct?

  1. a) 1, 3 and 4
  2. b) 1 and 4 only
  3. c) 2, 3 and 4
  4. a) 1 and 2 only


Answer: Option b) 1 and 4 only