Cost of air pollution

Death in the Air Infographic by World Bank

The World Bank released a new report titled “The Cost of Air Pollution: strengthening the economic case for action” and in it they detail how air pollution is now the 4th leading risk factor for deaths worldwide. That’s worse than the deaths attributed to alcohol and drug use, HIV/AIDS, and even malaria. Besides the other reasons for reducing air pollution (climate change, our health, etc.) the economic one is probably the one that will communicate the strongest to everyone as air pollution costs the global economy in terms of foregone labor income to the tune of $225 Billion each year globally.

Click here for full report.

Click here to view the infographic in higher resolution.

Air pollution has emerged as the fourth-leading risk factor for deaths worldwide. While pollution-related deaths mainly strike young children and the elderly, these deaths also result in lost labor income for working-age men and women. The loss of life is tragic. The cost to the economy is substantial. The infographic below is mainly based on findings from The Cost of Air Pollution: Strengthening the economic case for action, a joint study of the World Bank and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME).
Air pollution has emerged as the fourth-leading risk factor for deaths worldwide. While pollution-related deaths mainly strike young children and the elderly, these deaths also result in lost labor income for working-age men and women. The loss of life is tragic. The cost to the economy is substantial. The infographic below is mainly based on findings from The Cost of Air Pollution: Strengthening the economic case for action, a joint study of the World Bank and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME).

Exactly how much does Diwali harm Delhi’s air?

News reports this year suggested that people are now more aware that fireworks increase air pollution in Delhi, and there were reports of reduced sales of fireworks. But with 22 million people, Diwali must go on. So that got me to thinking: just how bad does Diwali make our air?

To get to the bottom of it, I stationed our trusty Dylos DC1700 particle counter on my porch. I tracked (outdoor) air quality before, during, and after Diwali in Green Park, New Delhi. Here’s what I found:

Diwali Pollution Graph 2015

Nerd note: I converted the Dylos 0.5 and 2.5 micron counts to approximate PM 2.5 ug/m3, which then gives us an AQI.

The left axis is PM2.5 and the colors represent the range of the AQI in ug/m3. Also plotted on the graph are some averages to put things in perspective.

Delhi winter air averages 220 micrograms/m3, but during the peak Diwali fireworks on November 11, our numbers spiked to almost 700 micrograms/m3! That’s 28 times the WHO 24-hour limit of 25 ug/m3.

By comparison, Beijing’s air is often criticized, but Delhi peaked at about 7 times the Beijing average.

I always look forward to Diwali, but I’ll be packing a pollution mask!