Delhi Air Pollution

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Mar 17, 2022, 9:33

The capital of India, Delhi, is considered to be one of the most polluted cities in the world by WHO, according to a survey comprising 1,650 cities across the globe. In fact, the survey shows that of all the major global cities, Delhi air pollution level is the worst. The poor air quality in the city, apart from causing massive cases of chronic bronchitis and asthma, is also perpetuating a negative impact on the health of the children. Nearly 2.2 million children, which amounts to 50% of the total population of children in Delhi, are showcasing irreversible damages in their lungs due to uncontrolled exposure to the toxic air of Delhi.

Causes of Delhi Air Pollution

One of the prime causes of Delhi's air pollution is emissions from motor vehicles. Apart from that, rampant construction, industrialization of the nearby rural areas, combustion of cow dung, garbage burning, etc., have been the other major causes of air pollution in Delhi. Agricultural stubble burning has also been one of the menaces causing tremendous air pollution in the capital city of India. Added to it, the firecrackers burnt during various social and religious events are also responsible for the vaulting air pollution level.

Effects of Poor Air Quality in Delhi

The Supreme Court of India, in one of its historic statements on Delhi air pollution, said, "Delhi has become worse than narak (hell)." In fact, Justice Arun Mishra went on record saying that it was better to blow up Delhi with explosives and kill everyone rather than live in the claustrophobic conditions of Delhi.

Essentially, the effects of air pollution in Delhi are massive and can be categorized into two parts - children and adults.

  • Children - The excessive pollution quotient in Delhi may have adverse effects on the immune systems of the children and risk heinous diseases, including diabetes, cancer, epilepsy, and even autoimmune conditions such as multiple sclerosis. Since children's bodies are in a developing stage, they tend to breathe in more air as per their body weight, making them more vulnerable to the rising pollution.
  • Adults - In adults, too, the effects of air pollution in Delhi are immense. It is causing a plethora of health issues such as persistent headaches, reduced lung capacity, fatigue, cough, sore throats, lung cancer, and a reduction in the overall life expectancy.

Air Quality Index of New Delhi in 2021

In 2021, Delhi was the 13th most polluted city globally, with an average AQI of 178. Interestingly, Faridabad, Gurugram, Noida, and Ghaziabad - which make up the National Capital Territory of India - made it to the top 10 of the most polluted city list. Here's a monthly chart of Delhi's AQI level in 2021.

Sr. No.MonthAQI
1January313
2February231
3March137
4April108
5May75
6June73
7July73
8August56
9September77
10October181
11November440
12December374

Although Delhi has been consistently coming under the radar for being one of the most polluted cities in the world, the Delhi government, along with the centre and the Supreme Court, are implementing various rules to regulate the traffic and the burning of stubble in nearby areas to curb pollution.

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FAQs on Delhi Air Pollution

Q.1. How many cities were part of the WHO survey of the world's most polluted cities?

As many as 1,650 cities were part of the survey conducted by WHO to ascertain the pollution level.

Q.2. What kind of diseases are caused by Delhi air pollution in adults?

Air pollution in Delhi is causing a plethora of health issues in adults such as persistent headaches, reduced lung capacity, fatigue, cough, sore throats, lung cancer, and a reduction in the overall life expectancy.

Q.3. What are the effects of Delhi's air pollution on children?

Apart from causing irreversible damage to their lungs, air pollution in Delhi is causing heinous diseases, including diabetes, cancer, epilepsy, and even autoimmune conditions such as multiple sclerosis in children.

Q.4. What is the main reason behind Delhi's air pollution?

Emissions from motor vehicles are the prime reason behind Delhi's air pollution.