Over 1.2 Million Early Deaths in India Due to Air Pollution

Cristina Cross
April 6, 2019

Last year's SOGA study found dirty air was almost ubiquitous among the global population, with more than 90% of people worldwide breathing in unsafe air, the result of industrial expansion, increasing traffic and exposure to indoor pollution from solid-fuel cooking fires.

The global toll is five million, and the two countries together adds up to half of it.

The study "State of Global Air 2019" released by the USA -based Health Effects Institute (HEI) produces latest information on air quality and health for countries around the globe.

In total, the report says 147 million years of healthy life were lost in 2017 globally due to pollution.

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".

The Indian government's initiative, known as Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY), provided liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) connections to 35 million poor families free of charge between 2016 and early 2018 and aims to provide 80 million connections by 2020.

Toxic air will shorten children's lives by nearly two years and will have the greatest impact in South Asia, according to a special report on global exposure to air pollution and its disease burden, published by the US-based Health Effects Institute.

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Exposure to indoor and outdoor air pollution in India contributed to more than 1.2 million premature deaths in 2017, according to a new global study on quality, published on Wednesday.

However it warns "the loss of life expectancy is not borne equally", with children in South Asia set to have their lives cut short by 30 months because of a combination of outdoor air pollution and dirty indoor air.

According to the report, Nepal has the highest levels of air pollution-100 μg/m3-in the world where annual exposure to PM2.5 particulate matter can cause breathing difficulties and cardiovascular issues.

This assessment also tracked exposure to household air pollution from burning fuels such as coal, wood or biomass for cooking and heating.

In March 2019, Greenpeace in its report on air pollution highlighted that out of 20 most polluted cities in the world, 18 are in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, while Beijing, once among the most polluted cities in the world, ranked 122nd in the list of most polluted cities in 2018.

But despite the rapid progress, the SOGA report said there was still much work to be done, with the average Chinese air pollution data far below the World Health Organization's air quality standards.

Asian boy wearing mouth mask against air pollution (Beijing). When the air is thick with PM pollution, tiny particles enter the respiratory system, increasing the risk of cancer, heart attack and stroke.

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