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Asia Struggles With Air Pollution But Key SE Asian Cities Managed To Stay Clean

Air Pollution - Taipei, Taiwan | Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Asia’s booming economy has its downsides and air pollution is among the most evident ill-effects of an accelerated pace of progress. A new report indicates that pure and clean air might be hard to find in major Asian metropolis but in Southeast Asia, such gift of nature remains readily enjoyable.

In a report, the Swiss-based IQ AirVisual counted 15 cities in the region where the air quality is relatively high. Notable members of the list are the Philippine capital of Manila and Makati, the same country’s premier central business district (CBD). Singapore also made the cut and three Thai cities namely Satun, Narathiwat and Nan.

The Philippines dominates the list with 11 cities labelled as having the lowest levels of air pollution in the region with Calamba, a city in the province of Laguna, ranked the cleanest city in Southeast Asia. According to IQ AirVisual, Calamba was rated with a 2018 average PM2.5 level of 9.3, measured at per cubic meter of air.

PM2.5, the environmental group said, is the particulate matter that “is widely regarded as the pollutant with the most health impact of all commonly measured air pollutants.”

“Due to its small size, PM2.5 is able to penetrate deep into the human respiratory system and from there to the entire body, causing a wide range of short- and long-term health effects. Particulate matter is also the pollutant group which affects the most people globally,” the report from the group added.

High Cost Of Economic Boom

Unsurprisingly, the same study by the group has identified Asia’s biggest economies where the fight against air pollution is still in the struggle phase. In Beijing, the average PM2.5 level seen last year was at 50.9, thus making the Chinese capital the eighth most polluted city in the world.

The prevalence, however, of toxic air is even more alarming in the Indian capital of New Delhi. The city’s PM2.5 levels averaged at 113.5 in 2018, making it the worst in the continent in terms of air pollution incidence.

“New Delhi’s toxic air is caused by vehicle and industrial emissions, dust from building sites, smoke from the burning of rubbish and crop residue in nearby fields,” Reuters said in a related report.

As for China, significant improvements were seen in recent years, which IQ AirVisual credited to “vastly improved legislation and greater political will to combat poor air quality.”

While hopes are high that India will soon follow China’s lead, it’s still a big question if the former would change course “and move away from polluting fuels and practices.”