NEW DELHI: Delhi residents’ annual exposure to PM2.5 (particulate matter) in 2017 was the highest in the country at 209 mircrogramme per cubic metre (ug/m3), more than five times the limit of 40 ug/m3 recommended by the National Ambient Air Quality. And, Delhiites also had to pay a heavy price: Over 12,300 deaths were attributable to air pollution last year in the National Capital, where outdoor pollution brought down the average life expectancy by 1.5 years.
Delhi’s annual population weighted mean exposure to ambient particulate matter is also much higher than the country’s average of 89.9 ug/m3, said a report by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on the impact of air pollution on health loss and life expectancy reduction.In fact, as per the findings, a Delhiite’s exposure to PM2.5 is at least 12 times higher than from a resident in Kerala, which fares the best among states. PM2.5 particles can enter human lung and blood tissues, and increase the risk of heart and lung diseases.
Released on Thursday, the report said 12,322 deaths were attributable to air pollution in Delhi last year. Also, 51.1 per cent of these deaths were reported among the people less than the age of 70. While 11,732 deaths happened due to ambient particulate matter pollution (outdoor), 52 were attributed to pollution inside houses. The figures, however, were less than states such as Uttar Pradesh (2.60 lakh), Maharashtra (1.08 lakh), Rajasthan (90,499), Bihar (96,967), and West Bengal (94,534).
Outdoor pollution reduced average life expectancy by 1.4 years in Haryana, and 1.3 years in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, said the first comprehensive estimates of deaths, disease burden, and life expectancy reduction associated with air pollution in states.
The report was a joint initiative of the ICMR, Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), and Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, along with experts and stakeholders associated with over 100 Indian institutions. These research findings were also published in The Lancet Planetary Health.