Indians lose 5 years’ life to air pollution, Delhi worst at 12 years: Chicago university studyVishwa Mohan / TNN / Updated: Aug 31, 2023, 00:19 IST
Delhi emerged as the most polluted city in a study released by the Energy Policy Institute
NEW DELHI: Fine particulate air pollution (PM2.5) is estimated to shorten an average Indian’s life expectancy by 5.3 years and in Delhi, often labelled the most polluted city in the world, by as much as 11.9 years when compared to the World Health Organisation (WHO) standards of 5 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3), according to an updated Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) released by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC).
However, an average Indian could lose 1.8 years of life expectancy and a Delhi resident up to 8.5 years if the country’s national ambient air quality standards (40 µg/m3) are not met, says the report.
The Index, based on the WHO standards factoring annual average PM2.5 levels, shows many areas of India — the second most polluted in the world after Bangladesh — faring badly with air pollution shortening lives by 11.2 years in Gurgaon, 10.8 years in Faridabad, 10.1 years in Jaunpur (Uttar Pradesh), 9.7 years each in Lucknow and Kanpur, 9.2 years in Muzaffarpur (Bihar), 8.8 years in Prayagraj (UP) and 8.7 years in Patna.
The report flags that all of India’s over 1.3 billion people live in areas where the annual average particulate pollution level exceeds WHO standards while 67.4% of the population lives in areas that exceed the country’s own national air quality standards.
Measured in terms of life expectancy, the AQLI report says particulate pollution is the greatest threat to human health in India with cardiovascular diseases reducing the average life expectancy by about 4.5 years, followed by child and maternal malnutrition (1.8 years).
Globally, air pollution (PM2.5) remains the most significant external risk to human health, reducing the average life expectancy by 2.3 years as per the WHO standards. The life expectancy loss figures, however, vary if one considers country-specific national ambient air quality standards, taking into account geographical and meteorological factors.
“The impact of PM2.5 on global life expectancy is comparable to that of smoking, more than three times that of alcohol use and unsafe water, more than 5 times that of transport injuries like car crashes, and more than 7 times that of HIV/AIDS,” said the EPIC report.
“Three-quarters of air pollution’s impact on global life expectancy occurs in just six countries— Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, China, Nigeria and Indonesia — where people lose one to more than six years of their lives because of the air they breathe,” said Michael Greenstone, the Milton Friedman Distinguished Service Professor in Economics and the brain behind AQLI at EPIC.
In South Asia, particulate pollution has increased 9.7% from 2013 to 2021, which AQLI estimates reduced life expectancy in the region by an additional 6 months. In India, PM2.5 levels rose 9.5%; in Pakistan 8.8%; and in Bangladesh by 12.4% during this period.
In 2022, AQLI that factored in the annual average PM2.5 levels of 2020, put an average Indian’s life expectancy loss by 5 years in India. The average PM2.5 level was slightly less in 2020 (56.2 µg/m3) compared to 2021 (58.7 µg/m3) due to Covid-linked lockdown.
“In the most polluted region of the country — the Northern Plains — 521.2 million residents or 38.9% of India’s population is on track to lose 8 years of life expectancy on average relative to the WHO guideline and 4.5 years relative to the national standard if current pollution levels persist,” said the report.
Indians lose 5 years’ life to air pollution, Delhi worst at 12 years: Chicago university study | India News - Times of India
India News: Fine particulate air pollution (PM2.5) is estimated to shorten an average Indian’s life expectancy by 5.3 years and in Delhi, often labelled the most