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Smog. How megacities deal with smog. Four ways

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Smog kills millions of people around the world every year. Residents of large cities breathe the worst quality air. However, there are ways to combat this. Here are four solutions that megacities use.

Air pollution is one of the biggest problems around the world. According to estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO), smog contributes to approximately seven million deaths annually. People living in the world’s largest cities, from New Delhi in India, through Turkey’s Istanbul, to Los Angeles in the US, are among the most affected by poor air quality.

Deutsche Welle analyzed data collected by Swiss air quality data provider IQAir, including PM2.5 pollution levels for cities with more than 10 million inhabitants. Of the 25 megacities with available data, in almost all of them, i.e. in 21 cities, the air quality level improved in 2017-2022. How was this done? Here are four ways megacities can deal with choking smog.

1. Clean transport

To combat air pollution, cities are implementing various strategies. In many of them, transport plays a significant role. Reducing the number of cars and using vehicles that produce less exhaust gases contribute to this. Authorities in these cities are also promoting walking or cycling and expanding public transport. For example, Bangkok’s subway system is being expanded, and New Delhi intends to electrify 80 percent of its bus fleet.

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2. Industrial sources

In megacities, another key aspect that needs to be addressed is industry. For example, New Delhi’s action plan against air pollution also focuses on reducing dust from construction sites and switching to cleaner fuels. The city continues to be among the most polluted in the world, especially during the winter months. In 2023, smog became so severe again that it forced schools to close. Despite this, Delhi reduced its pollution levels by 15 percent between 2017 and 2022.

One of the main factors may have been the Badarpur coal-fired power plant, which was shut down in 2018. It was estimated to be responsible for about 10 percent of particulate matter air pollution in New Delhi alone.

The impact of air pollution on healthPAP

3. Waste management

Where waste is not properly collected and treated, people burn it in furnaces. This causes toxic smog and contributes to air pollution. This means that waste management regulations and infrastructure must be part of every city plan to combat air pollution.

Read also: Smog can lead to chronic diseases. Also the most serious ones

4. Clean energy

In China, cities have drastically reduced pollution levels over the past few years. This is the result of what the Chinese government calls the “war on air pollution”, which means funds are allocated to energy consumption for heating and electricity.

Beijing, for example, imposed strict emission limits on domestic heating boilers and offered subsidies to any household switching from coal-fired boilers to natural gas or electricity. One study found that renovating these boilers was responsible for 20 percent of the reduction in air pollution in Beijing.

Outside of China, countries around the world are investing in renewable energy, phasing out coal and exploring alternatives to wood- and coal-burning stoves. Seoul, the capital of South Korea, switched to gas heaters in the 1990s and is now considering greener alternatives such as heat pumps.

Air pollution in Europe PAP

Deutsche Welle, tvnmeteo.pl

Main photo source: Amit kg/Shutterstock

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