Air pollution is one of the most serious issues India is grappling with. Although the country has a very low per capita emission of greenhouse gases, on the whole India is the third largest polluter after China and USA.

In India the main sources of pollution are biomass and fuel wood burning and emissions from vehicle exhausts. Crop residue is also burned in agricultural fields at a large scale to produce smog, smoke and particulate pollution.

There have been some measurable improvements in the regularization of air pollution after the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act was passed in 1981.


Particulate matter

The level of particulate matter in the air is a measure of how polluted the air is. Exposure to high levels of particulate matter can be very harmful and can lead to diseases like bronchitis, asthma and other lung diseases. A study conducted in 2010 called the Global Burden of Disease study found that outdoor air pollution is the fifth largest killer in India, indoor air pollution being the second largest.

Notwithstanding the gloomy picture air pollution in India today presents, the country’s air quality has seen improvements in the last 15 years of regulatory reforms.  The Central Pollution Control Board keeps a close watch on the four main air pollutants, namely, oxides of nitrogen (NOx), sulphur dioxide (SO2), respirable particulate matter (PM10) and suspended particulate matter (SPM). This helps in analysing and controlling air pollution.