Thursday, January 24, 2013

Asian Cities With Air Quality As Bad As Beijing

From CleanBiz.Asia
January 23rd, 2013

When it comes to polluted cities Asia leads the world. While Beijing was hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons as pollution rose to ‘off-the-scale’ levels, and Hong Kong’s government was revealing plans on how it is going to tackle the city’s pollution, there are a number of other cities throughout the region, which are in an even worse state.

While you may think Mongolia is all about un-spoilt wild landscapes and horses with little pollution, the latest data released by the UN Agency World Health Organization points to Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar, as the world’s most polluted city.

Air pollution in Asia, which already causes more than 800,000 premature deaths each year, will likely lead to even higher death rates as the region's air quality worsens, according to air quality group Clean Air Asia.

According to WHO levels of PM10 (particles of 10 microns or less per cubic meter) in Ulaanbaatar reaches 279 micrograms per cubic meter of air (ug/m3). This compares to 81ug/m3 recorded in Shanghai or the average of 50 for Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur. Australia’s capital Canberra with a reading of 10 ug/m3 is Asia’s least polluted city.

Pollution in Ulaanbaatar is due to the city’s location at 1,300 meters above sea level. It turns the metropolis into the world’s coldest national capital, with an average annual temperature of -1.3°C. According to WHO, given its almost neverending winters, the coal combustion for cooking and heating is prevalent and a leading cause of air pollution - outdoor and indoor.

But Mongolia is not the only one: the Indian sub-continent is also home to some of the world’s most polluted cities. Ludhiana in India and Quetta in Pakistan fight for the title of Asia’s second most polluted city. If you take a look at the top twelve most polluted cities in the region, India and Pakistan occupy 2nd to 12th place. New Delhi flirts with 200 ug/m2 while the world’s famous tourist city of Agra is also world famous for its pollution index at 165 ug/m2!

Looking north, South Korean cities are also among the most polluted in Northeast Asia with Seoul or Pusan standing at over 60 ug/m3 of PM10, three times as much as Tokyo or Osaka.

While Southeast Asia seems to perform better, some cities continue to show high levels of pollution. Medan’s PM10 concentration of stands at 111 ug/m3, making North Sumatra’s capital the most polluted in Indonesia and in Southeast Asia. It is closely followed by Yangon in Myanmar with a particles’ concentration of 96 ug/m3.

Mandalay in Myanmar, Surabaya in Indonesia, Shah Alam and Johor Bahru in Malaysia as well as Saraburi, Bangkok and Ayutthaya are among the most polluted cities in the region. Surprisingly, even Jakarta and Manila perform better than the Thai capital despite being chocked by heavy car fumes most of the time of the year.

So, where should Asians for a breath of fresh air? The WHO ranks Estonia, Mauritius and Canada as having the world’s best air quality.

1 comment:

ariel van said...

They're wrong about Mauritius, very hard to breathe there, unless you go deep into rain forest area