IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


23rd February, 2024 Environment


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Picture Courtesy: https://www.livemint.com/news/india/top-10-polluted-cities-in-india-with-aqi-above-400-check-full-list-11667546088371.html

Context: According to a recent report, 15 cities in India recorded PM2.5 levels more than double the prescribed standard in January 2024, with Delhi and Bhagalpur ranking as the most polluted cities.

Key Highlights of the Study

  • According to a study by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), only 32 Indian cities under the National Clean Air Programme had clean air, with Delhi identified as the most polluted city in January 2024.
  • Pollution Levels in Specific Cities: Delhi recorded a monthly average PM2.5 concentration of 206 µg/m³, surpassing the daily NAAQS. Bhagalpur in Bihar closely followed Delhi in terms of pollution levels.
  • Top 10 Most Polluted Cities: Cities from Bihar, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, and Delhi are featured in the list. 15 cities registered PM2.5 levels more than double the prescribed standard.
  • Cleanest Cities in January 2024: Chamarajanagar, Vijayapura, Kalaburgi, Bagalkot in Karnataka, Aizawl in Mizoram, Silchar, and Sivasagar in Assam were among the 10 cleanest cities.
  • Atmospheric Conditions and Air Quality: Low wind speed and cooler temperatures in northern India contributed to stable atmospheric conditions, hindering the rapid dispersion of emissions. This led to the accumulation of pollutants near the earth’s surface, increasing ambient air pollution levels.
  • Government Initiatives and Challenges: The NCAP aimed to address air pollution, but the report suggests challenges in implementation. The need for continuous ambient air quality monitoring stations was highlighted.
  • Economic Impact: The report mentions potential economic costs, estimating around Rs 6 lakh crore, if traders boycott Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) markets.
  • Contributing Factors: The study emphasizes that while natural atmospheric conditions are beyond human control, baseline emissions primarily contribute to increased air pollution levels.

Air Pollution




What is air pollution?

The presence of harmful or excessive substances in the air that negatively affects human health, the environment, and ecosystems.

Particulate matter (PM2.5, PM10), ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds (VOCs)

Types of air pollutants:

Primary: emitted directly from sources. Secondary: formed from reactions between primary pollutants and sunlight or other chemicals.

PM (from combustion and abrasion), SO2 (from fossil fuel burning), NO2 (from vehicle exhaust), CO (from incomplete combustion), ozone (formed from NO2 and VOCs)

Sources of air pollution:

Stationary: industries, power plants, agriculture

Factory emissions, dust from farms

Health effects:

Depends on the type and level of exposure, individual health, and duration.

Short-term: coughing, wheezing, eye irritation, headaches.

Long-term: respiratory diseases, heart disease, cancer, cognitive decline.

Environmental effects:

Acid rain, damage to plants and ecosystems, reduced visibility.

Degraded forests, algal blooms, loss of biodiversity

Economic impacts:

Healthcare costs, lost productivity, damage to crops and buildings.

Billions of dollars globally

Monitoring and measurement:

Air quality monitoring stations, satellite data, and individual sensors.

Air Quality Index (AQI), PM2.5 concentration

Solutions and mitigation:

Reducing emissions, cleaner technologies, renewable energy, and sustainable practices.

Electric vehicles, catalytic converters, energy efficiency standards, sustainable agriculture


  • Addressing air pollution requires a comprehensive and multi-faceted approach involving government policies, technological advancements, public engagement, and international cooperation. The goal is to reduce emissions, improve air quality, and protect the health of both humans and the environment.

Must Read Articles:

AIR POLLUTION INDIA: https://www.iasgyan.in/daily-current-affairs/air-pollution-india#:~:text=India%20has%20an%20average%20PM2,threshold%20by%20an%20alarming%20500%25%20.

Air pollution impact on Rural and Urban areas: https://www.iasgyan.in/daily-current-affairs/air-pollution-impact-on-rural-and-urban-areas


Q. Which technology aims to capture carbon dioxide emissions from power plants to prevent them from entering the atmosphere?

A) Catalytic converters

B) Electrostatic precipitators

C) Carbon Capture and Storage

D) Scrubber systems

Answer: C

Explanation: Catalytic converters reduce harmful emissions from vehicle exhaust, while electrostatic precipitators remove particulate matter from industrial emissions. Scrubber systems capture specific pollutants like sulfur dioxide. CCS focuses on capturing and storing CO2 emissions from power plants.