Air Pollution Behind 1 In 8 Deaths In India, Says Study
Air pollution was behind one in eight deaths in India last year, contributing more than tobacco to the country’s disease burden, says a report by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). The report, which was published in the Lancet Planetary Health journal, also said that citizens faced the highest exposure to ultra-fine PM2.5 pollutants in national capital Delhi, followed by Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.
The annual population-weighted mean exposure to ambient PM2.5 in India was 89.9 micrograms per square cubic metre (µg/m3) in 2017, one of the highest in the world. National capital Delhi recorded the highest PM 2.5 exposure level, followed by Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
PM2.5 is the short form of particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns are. These fine particles can enter deep into the lungs and can cause heart attacks, strokes, respiratory diseases and cancer. PM2.5 pollution comes from power plants, cars and trucks, fires, agriculture and industrial emissions. The World Health Organization (WHO) permission limit is 10 µg/m3.
This is the agency’s first report that estimates the impact of air pollution on deaths, health loss and life expectancy reduction in each state in India.
While stating that around 12.4 lakh people died in India in 2017 due to air pollution, the study said that the average life expectancy would have been 1.7 years higher if the pollution levels were less than the minimal average. Of this, 6.7 lakh deaths were caused due to outdoors air pollution while 4.8 lakh deaths were due to household air pollution. The study also pointed out that more than half of the 12.4 people who died due to air pollution were aged less than 70 years.
"The average life expectancy in India would have been 1.7 years higher if the air pollution levels were less than the minimal level causing health loss, with the highest increases in the northern states of Rajasthan (2.5 years), Uttar Pradesh (2.2 years), and Haryana (2.1 years)," it said.
The report further said 77 per cent of India's population was exposed to outdoor air pollution that is above the levels set by the National Ambient Air Quality Standards.
While stating that northern states were at greater risk of air pollution, the study pointed out that it killed the highest number of people in Uttar Pradesh (260,028), Maharashtra (108,038) and Bihar (96,967) in 2017. The study cited coal burning, industry emissions, construction activity, brick kilns, transport vehicles, road dust, residential and commercial biomass burning, waste burning, agricultural stubble burning and diesel generators as the prime contributors to India’s air pollution.
With inputs from Housing News