Over 1.2 mn early deaths in India due to air pollution

Katie Ramirez
April 5, 2019

In South Asia, where air pollution levels are the highest, the life expectancy for children born in countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh falls by more than 30 months, according to the annual State of Global Air report, published by the Health Effects Institute, a US -based nonprofit research group.

Air pollution contributed to almost one in every 10 deaths in 2017, making it a bigger killer than malaria and road accidents and comparable to smoking, according to the State of Global Air (SOGA) 2019 study published on Wednesday.

"Each year, more people globally die from air pollution related disease than from road traffic injuries or malaria", the study said.

Worldwide, air pollution reduced life expectancy by an average 20 months in 2017, a global impact rivaling that of smoking; this means a child born today will die 20 months sooner, on average, than would be expected without air pollution.

Exposure to outdoor and indoor air pollution contributed to over 1.2 million deaths in India in 2017, a new global study said on Wednesday.

In 2017, 846 million people in India and 452 million people in China were exposed to household air pollution.

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The report also confirms what the new life expectancy is around the world, with Canadians now losing a quarter-of-a-year due to poor air quality.

Air pollution is an increasing concern across the world, with studies linking it to a wide range of effects on health, from dementia to miscarriage, and it has been described as a global emergency.

The report, analyzing the Global Burden of Disease 2016 data, stated, "When considered separately, exposure to ambient PM2.5 is responsible for just over 1 year, household air pollution is responsible for nearly 9 months, and ozone for less than 1 month of life span lost".

30 lakh deaths were due to PM 2.5 (tiny particles with 2.5 microns or less width), and out of that, 15 lakh were recorded in India and China. "While China's air pollution is still worse than that experienced on average across the globe, the remarkable improvements seen in recent years bring significant benefits to China's population and underscore the potential for air quality management efforts to rapidly and substantially improve air quality both in China and around the world". The two topped the list of the 10 countries "with the highest mortality burden attributable to air pollution" in 2017. South Asia is most polluted area in the world, it added. "They have kept on pursuing this, they have dispatched government officials to these places to enforce, and air pollution has begun to turn a corner in China", he said.

Globally, there has been progress: the proportion of people cooking with solid fuels has declined as economies develop. Could a report titled "State of the Global Air" with 21 mentions of India in the text of a 24-page report turn some heads, draw attention to the alarming health crisis brewing in the country?

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