Did Delhi’s Air Quality Improve in 2020?

How was Delhi’s air quality in 2020? Did Delhi’s air quality improve in 2020 compared to recent years? For the previous three years, Delhi has seen little improvement in air quality. Air pollution levels have hovered around 10x the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommended limit for PM2.5 levels. Smart Air dove into the data to see if this trend has changed.

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Results: Did Delhi’s Air Quality Improve in 2020?

After analyzing Delhi’s air quality data from the US Embassy, Smart Air found that air pollution fell 19% in 2020 compared to 2019. Despite this improvement, Delhi still averaged over 8 times the World Health Organization’s annual air quality limit, making it one of the most polluted cities in the world.

Delhi Air Quality 2019 vs 2020

Delhi started 2020 on the wrong foot when air quality spiked in January. Most of Delhi’s reduction in air pollution came during the COVID-19 lockdown, with better air quality from March through August.

Delhi's air quality and pollution 2020 vs 2019

Delhi’s pollution levels peak during winter with PM2.5 typically rising in October, and pollution levels remain high until March of the next year.

Delhi and India's pollution gets worse in the winter

Progress or not, air quality data from 2020 shows that Delhi still takes the crown for the most polluted among India’s major cities.

Indian Cities Air Quality 2020

The analysis is based on PM2.5 air pollution, particles smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter. These particles can penetrate deep into the lungs and even enter the bloodstream. Studies have found that PM2.5 raises blood pressure, inflammation, and rates of heart attacks and strokes.

The US Embassy data is open for researchers, although it is limited. It comes from only one pollution sensor in the city, and pollution can vary between neighborhoods.

How I Protect Myself

Despite the harms of PM2.5, studies have found that wearing masks prevents physiological harm to the body. Also using air purifiers in your home have been shown to have positive effects on blood pressure, inflammation, and immune response.

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