Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg

India's Smog Levels Surpassed China's in 2015, Greenpeace Says

  • Air pollution levels in India have risen in the past decade
  • Pollution exposure for the average Chinese peaked in 2011

The average Indian faced more particulate pollution than the average Chinese in 2015, the first time on record, Greenpeace India said in a study.

Air pollution levels in India, especially North India, have risen over the past decade, with 2015 being the most polluted year on record, it said in the report after analyzing satellite-based particulate matter measurements. Pollution exposure for the average Chinese peaked in 2011 and has seen dramatic improvement, said Greenpeace.

Concentrations of PM2.5, the fine particles that pose the greatest risk to health, fell 17 percent in China from 2010 to 2015, while in India they rose rose 13 percent, according to Greenpeace. The U.S. experienced a 15 percent decline.

China could serve as an example of how specific measures can help reduce pollution, according to Greenpeace. The world’s second-biggest economy has established a set of targets for improving air quality in key regions and for boosting clean energy use.

China’s national-level efforts have produced improvements along with stricter emission standards for heavy industry and curbs on coal consumption, it said.

Greenpeace advised India to set a deadline for national air quality standards to be met and to create a regional action plan involving the highly polluted areas from the states of Punjab in the north to West Bengal in the east.

— With assistance by Feifei Shen

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