After measuring the levels of air pollution over 195 cities across the world for over ten years, NASA scientists have released a pollution map that shows how pollution levels have changed around the globe in the last decade. The map reveals that the United States and Europe have seen the dramatic reduction in nitrogen dioxide levels while India, China and the Middle East have witnessed severe rise in pollution due to growing industrial sector.
Nitrogen dioxide is a yellow-brown gas that is a common emission from cars and industrial activity. It is a major respiratory pollutant in urban smog. The American Space Agency has accounted for the ground factors like large power while evaluating the impact on the environment.
According to researchers, one of the world’s largest manufacturing hub, China has witnessed a rise of 20 to 50 percent in nitrogen dioxide and largest growth was seen over the North China Plain, a highly populated region from Beijing to Nanjing.
“These changes in air quality patterns aren’t random.” An atmospheric scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, Bryan Duncan,who led the research said, “When governments step in and say we’re going to build something here or we’re going to regulate this pollutant, you see the impact in the data.”
According to warnings issued by World Health Organisation (WHO), nitrogen dioxide leads to many diseases including asthma, bronchial symptoms, lung inflammation and reduced lung function. Researchers explained that most of the nitrogen dioxide is emitted into the atmosphere due to human activities including heating, power generation and combustion processes in vehicles and ships.
The map reveals nearly 20 to 50 percent reduction in levels of nitrogen dioxide while western Europe has witnessed more than 50 percent reduction in the same. According to scientists, these dramatically reducing numbers are mostly due to the active efforts from government and concerned authorities that have laid some strict environment regulations to curb the nitrogen dioxide levels.
As per the reports reveled by the researchers, the increased nitrogen dioxide levels since 2005 in the Middle East countries, including, Iraq, Kuwait, and Iran were down to economic growth in these countries. However a decrease has been seen since 2011 in Syria, which is most likely because of the civil war, which began in that year, and has since left more than 300,000 people dead and forced 10.6 million – nearly half the population – to flee.
While on December 12, history was made in Paris at the COP21 meeting, where government ministers from 195 countries agreed to abide by a legally binding agreement to combat climate change and keep global warming below two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).