Air Pollution In Asian Cities Worse Than In Europe And The US

Asian drivers are exposed to nine times more air pollution than their American or European counterparts, researchers say.

AsianScientist (Jul. 24, 2018) – Air quality in Asian cities is poor and residents of Asia are exposed to high levels of fine particles and black carbon. These findings have been published in Atmospheric Environment.

According to the World Health Organization, about 88 percent of premature deaths in low- and middle-income countries in Asia can be attributed to air pollution. Much of this pollution comes from vehicular emissions. The number of road vehicles in Beijing increased from 1.5 million in 2000 to more than 5 million in 2014. In Delhi, India, the number of road vehicles is expected to increase from 4.7 million in 2010 to 25.6 million by 2030.

In this study, researchers at the Global Center for Clean Research (GCARE) at the University of Surrey, UK, analyzed studies of pollution exposure and concentration levels in Asian transport microenvironments, which include activities such as walking, driving, cycling, motorbike riding and bus riding. They focused on the levels of fine particles—black carbon produced by carbon-rich fuels such as gasoline and diesel fuel—and ultrafine particles (UFP) small enough to travel deep into a person’s lungs.

The researchers found evidence that pedestrians walking along busy roads in Asian cities are exposed to fine particle levels up to 1.6 times higher than those in European and American cities. Car drivers in Asia are exposed to up to nine times more pollution than drivers in Europe and the US, while black carbon levels were seven times higher for pedestrians in Asia than in the US.

The study also highlighted that UFP levels were up to four times higher in Hong Kong than in European cities. In New Delhi, the average black carbon concentration in cars was up to five times higher compared to Europe or North America.

“Care should be taken in directly comparing and contrasting the results of different studies due to varied amounts of information available on personal exposure in studied regions. However, there is compelling evidence that people travelling in urban areas in Asian cities are being exposed to a significantly higher level of air pollution,” said Professor Prashant Kumar, lead author of the study and the director of GCARE.

“There are increasing efforts in Asia to install properly designed and calibrated portable monitoring systems to measure actual exposures, using the data to better understand why high exposures occur and how to prevent them. These measurements of personal exposures will help individuals, businesses, and governments to develop and implement strategies to reduce such exposures,” said co-author Professor Chris Frey of North Carolina State University, US.

The article can be found at: Kumar et al. (2018) A Review of Factors Impacting Exposure to PM2.5, Ultrafine Particles and Black Carbon in Asian Transport Microenvironments.


Source: University of Surrey; Photo: Pixabay.
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