India’s Air Pollution 2019-2020, By the Numbers

Particulate matter air pollution is a nationwide public health issue in India. Clean Air Toolbox student interns Sandhya Sethuraman and Yuvan Das performed an analysis of publicly available fine particulate matter (PM2.5) measurements across India for 2019-2020, comparing daily average values to Indian and international air quality standards. In their article, they present data visualizations and compare their results to the 2017 study by McNeill and Nunes. Major findings include:

  • Unhealthy air is a problem across the country, not just North India where the issue receives more awareness and attention.
  • Coverage of government reference-grade air pollution monitoring in India has expanded greatly since 2016.
  • There were fewer unhealthy air pollution days in 2019 than in 2016-2017 for several major Indian cities.
  • There were modest decreases in PM2.5 during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown compared to the same time period in 2019.

Sethuraman, S., Das, Y., and McNeill, V.F. India's Air Pollution By the Numbers: 2019-2020 Analysis. Medium, October 8, 2021