When we think of the climate crisis, the first thought is often of the protests we see on the news, the travel disruptions we face on our way to work because of them and how irritating the whole issue is to our day-to-day lives.

It often takes precedence over the actual ecological crisis that we are in and those who are actually affected, some of our most vulnerable people – the poor.

A lot of the time the air breathed in poorer areas has detrimental effects on the health of those living there. Causing health problems such as asthma and cancer and even shortening life expectancy. PM2.5 (Particulate matter) is very prominent in poorer areas especially areas with lots of factories and industrial estates. PM2.5 are tiny particles that can get into respiratory system and cause serious harm to your health.

Air pollution is a killer in urban cities. With poorer cities suffering the most from outdoor urban air pollution because of the high emissions from manufacturing facilities, exhaust fumes from on-the-road vehicles and power generations. According to the World Health Organization 9 out of 10 people worldwide are breathing air containing high levels of polluted air. The most polluted places in the world are in low and middle-income countries with continents such as Africa and Asia being hit the worst.

But which city actually suffers from the worst rates?

According to The New York Times, New Delhi has the worst air pollution rates on the globe. With “extremely high” rates that reached over 900mg per cubic meter which is well above the EPA‘s “hazardous” 500mg.

Has it gotten worse over time?

In some regions yes, others have kept quite stable rates. With data produced by the World Health Organization I randomly selected 5 different countries with data from 2012 and 2016 on the reported DALYs per 100,000 people. A DALY is a “Disability Adjusted Life Year” and is a measure of years lost due to ill health. With the data I found it was years lost due to ambient air pollution and the figures show that air pollution is worsening over the years, but it is gradual. Chad being worst affected with a staggering increase over the four years and Bahrain not having very high rates throughout the entirety of the 4 years.

Infographic demonstrating air pollution rates worldwide
Infographic on worldwide air pollution

With air pollution causing fatalities on such a huge global scale, we have to ask whether enough is being done to minimise the damage. Each country have different techniques of handling the crisis. The UN have produced the Paris Agreement to effectively combat climate change in a way that first time brings the nations together in the climate effort. They want to increase their efforts not only to bring the global temperature down, but to deal with the effects of climate change that have been made. This collective effort should help reduce the climate crisis but so much damage has already been done.