Air pollution robs over five years of life in South Asia

Clay Curtis
July 30, 2020

"Though the threat of coronavirus is grave and deserves every bit of the attention it is receiving-perhaps more in some places-embracing the seriousness of air pollution with a similar vigour would allow billions of people around the world to lead longer and healthier lives", said Michael Greenstone, the Milton Friedman Distinguished Service Professor in Economics and creator of the AQLI.

The AQLI is a pollution index that translates particulate air pollution into its impact on life expectancy.

Uttar Pradesh has the worst air quality in the country, in its capital city, Lucknow, current pollution levels are 11 times greater than the World Health Organization guidelines which means residents lose about 10.3 years of their lives due to the toxic air.

Greenstone called for a robust public policy to reduce increasing air pollution. "The AQLI (Air Quality Life Index) tells citizens and policymakers how particulate pollution is affecting them and their communities and can be used to measure the benefits of policies to reduce pollution", he added.

Air pollution is a bigger killer than the Covid-19 pandemic and will continue to remain so unless there is strong and sustained policy action to tackle the problem, according to the Air Quality Life Index 2020 Annual Report published by the Energy Policy Institute of University of Chicago (EPIC).

It found that despite significant reductions in particulate matter in China - once one of the world's most polluted countries - the overall level of air pollution had stayed stable over the past two decades.

A new study by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC), shows that the average Indian loses over 5.2 years of their life to air pollution. "Eighty-four percent (people) live in areas where it exceeds India's own air quality standard..."

Over one thousand locations across England are in breach of the air pollution limits, according to a new data audit conducted by Friends of the Earth.

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Still, a representative for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex claim that not every detail in the book is completely accurate. This included Kate personally cooking Meghan vegan meals during a visit to their home at Anmer Hall.

Air pollution has deadly effects on a person's heart, lungs, brain and other systems and organs, its impact more devastating than even conflict and terrorism.

AQLI found that these populations would see their lifespan cut by five years on average, after being exposed to pollution levels 44% higher than 20 years ago.

Almost a quarter of the world's population resides in Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan, where pollution levels are 44 percent higher than they were 20 years ago, according to the AQLI.

If this pollution is reduced as per the national standard of India, then the age of Delhiites can increase by 6.5 years.

A spokesperson from Friends of the Earth said the government needs to do more to take polluting vehicles off the road and encourage walking and cycling.

While the likes of the US, Europe and Japan have made great strides in reducing air pollution levels, the report found it is still taking an average of two years from the average human in these regions.

China is winning the "war against pollution" which it declared in 2014, the report explains.

A spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said: "Air pollution has reduced significantly since 2010 - emissions of nitrogen oxides have fallen by 33% and are at their lowest level since records began".

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