London: Travelling by car in Delhi exposes people to black carbon levels five times higher than Europe and America, say scientists who found that Asian residents are exposed to nine times more air pollution than their Western counterparts.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), about 88 per cent of premature deaths in low- and middle-income countries in Asia can be attributed to air pollution.
The number of road vehicles in Beijing increased from 1.5 million in 2000 to more than 5 million in 2014 and the number in Delhi is expected to increase from 4.7 million in 2010 to 25.6 million by 2030. In a study published in the journal Atmospheric Environment, researchers looked at studies of pollution exposure and concentration levels in Asian transport microenvironments (walking, driving, cycling, motorbike riding and bus riding).
Researchers from University of Surrey in the UK 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 citizen’s lungs. The study found evidence that pedestrians walking along busy roadsides in Asian cities are exposed to up to 1.6 times higher fine particle levels than people in European and American cities.
Car drivers in Asia are exposed to up to nine times more pollution than Europeans and Ameri-cans, while black carbon levels were seven times higher for Asian pedestrians than Americans.
“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,” said Prashant Kumar, Director of the Global Centre for Clean Air Research at the University of Surrey.