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|Air pollution level||Air quality index||Main pollutant|
|Unhealthy|| 174* US AQI||PM2.5|
PM2.5 concentration in Agra is currently 20.2 times the WHO annual air quality guideline value
Unhealthy 174 AQI US
|Thursday, Nov 30|
Unhealthy 165 AQI US
|Friday, Dec 1|
Unhealthy 161 AQI US
|Saturday, Dec 2|
Unhealthy 160 AQI US
|Sunday, Dec 3|
Unhealthy 153 AQI US
|Monday, Dec 4|
Unhealthy for sensitive groups 132 AQI US
|Tuesday, Dec 5|
Unhealthy for sensitive groups 132 AQI US
|Wednesday, Dec 6|
Unhealthy for sensitive groups 139 AQI US
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Agra is a city located in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It faces onto the Yamuna river and is noticeable round the world for being home to the Taj Mahal, as well as many other Mughal era buildings, causing it to be a major tourist destination, considered to be one of the three ‘golden triangle’ members of India, the other two being Delhi and Jaipur.
Agra is approximately 206km south of the capital city of New Delhi, and is home to some 1.58 million people, although this number is sure to be higher now due to the census data having been gathered in 2011.
Looking at its pollution levels, it becomes apparent that Agra is indeed subject to some dangerously elevated levels of pollution, such to the extent that large amounts of the population would be at risk for adverse and ill effects, and even those who are just passing through on a short term basis would still be susceptible to certain respiratory ailments.
In 2019, Agra came in with a PM2.5 average of 57.2 μg/m³, placing it in the ‘unhealthy’ ratings bracket, one which requires a PM2.5 reading of anywhere between 55.5 to 150.4 μg/m³ to be classified as such. As the name implies this level of year round air quality is very hazardous, and carries with it many risks that will be covered shortly.
The reading of 57.2 μg/m³ placed Agra into 80th place out of all cities ranked worldwide, as well as 35th place out of all cities ranked in India. These are both poor placings for air quality, with much room for improvement to be made.
With many of its months coming in above its yearly average, and seven months out of the year hitting ‘unhealthy’ ratings brackets, there would be a large amount of health conditions associated with breathing in these pollution levels.
Gases and fine particulate matter released from factories, vehicles and open burn fires all have the potential to cause scarring and rapid aging of the lungs. For short term travelers, these pollutants may cause instances of aggravated asthma attacks to occur, irritation to the nose, eyes, mouth and all mucous membranes, as well as the skin.
For those that are exposed over longer periods of time, more debilitating and life threating conditions start to arise, such as instances of lung, throat and skin cancer. Ischemic heart disease can present itself, alongside other cardiovascular problems such as increased risks of heart attacks and arrythmias.
These are not even broaching the topic of the various respiratory disorders, and as such these count for only a small amount of the health issues that a city as polluted as Agra can cause.
Observing the data taken over 2019 as a good standpoint to go off, it becomes apparent that with Agra, and indeed many cities in India, the most polluted months of the year are at the beginning portion of the year and at the very end, with often this ‘pollution season’ starting late in the year around the time when India's equivalent of winter begins. It then continues on till the next year, before slowly starting to abate around July, with a brief period of respite from massive pollution readings being available.
There are some discrepancies in the city of Agra however, with the month of February in 2019 coming in with an unusually clean (relatively speaking) PM2.5 reading of 17.4 μg/m³, despite being surrounded by months that were many magnitudes higher than it in terms of pollution levels.
To finish, Agra starts to see a distinct rise in pollution starting in October, and from there on, the months of November through to June of the following year come in with the worst PM2.5 readings. In 2019 the most polluted month was January, which came in with a rather large reading of 113.6 μg/m³, putting it quite high up in the unhealthy bracket, and over 6 times higher than the lowest PM2.5 reading taken that year.
Main causes of pollution in Agra would be ones such as vehicular emissions, in fact being one of the more prominent if not main causes of the elevated pollution readings, although it is a combination of this alongside other factors that causes the large PM2.5 readings.
The weather, such as extreme heat and dust storms, can cause these issues to get even worse as high levels of sunlight can cause photochemical reactions to take place, with the various oxides of sulfur and nitrogen (released in high quantities by cars) being converted into ozone (O3) when exposed to solar radiation, creating thick ground level gatherings of ozone known as smog.
Whilst it is a vital component of the upper atmosphere, when it forms on the ground level it is instead extremely dangerous and harmful, causing a large amount of respiratory issues for those who are exposed.
Other causes of pollution in Agra would be road dust, finely ground gravel and silica particles released from road repairs and construction sites, as well as the improper disposal of both organic and synthetic refuse via burning, causing massive landfills that put out dangerous clouds of haze, fumes and toxic particles.
Aside from the different oxides of nitrogen and sulfur (nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide), there would be a plethora of other ones that are just as harmful, and in some cases even more so. The combustion of organic materials as well as fossil fuels leads to the formation of black carbon and volatile organic compounds (VOC's), with black carbon being a major component in soot, and a known carcinogen, able to penetrate deep into the lung tissue and even make its way into the bloodstream via the air sacs in the lungs.
Some examples of the aforementioned VOC's would include ones such as toluene, xylene, methylene chloride, benzene and formaldehyde. Toxic metals can be released from the combustion of synthetic materials as well as from construction sites, with ones such as lead, mercury and cadmium making their way into the atmosphere and environment. These are but a few of the pollutants found in the air in Agra, highlighting the importance of getting pollution levels under control in the coming years.