NEW DELHI: If you are the chalta hai types who thought air pollution in India was not as serious as it was made out to be, think again. Last year alone, one out of eight deaths in India occurred due to the toxic air, says the first comprehensive study on the subject commissioned by the Union government.
The study that analysed the impact of air pollution on deaths and the disease burden was carried out by 300 scientists and public health experts from 100 government and private institutions led by Indian Council for Medical Research with three other organisations. It found that the average life expectancy of Indians has dipped by 1.7 years because of pollution. Also, 77 per cent people breathe highly toxic air and not one Indian has access to pure air.
In fact, a whopping 12.4 lakh of the 1 crore deaths in the country in 2017 were linked to air pollution, making it a bigger worry for public health. In the past, there have been studies conducted by the WHO and some US universities to assess the impact of air pollution in India but they were limited to some cities, Lalit Dandona of Public Health Foundation of India who led the research team said. “The findings should help increase the momentum for control of pollution in India,” he said.
First published in The Lancet Planetary Health, the study was released in the Capital on Thursday. It says the annual population-weighted mean exposure to ambient particulate matter PM2.5 was at an alarming 89.9 ug per cubic metre for over two-thirds of Indians against a limit of 40 ug/m3, recommended by the National Ambient Air Quality Standards in India. Exposure to PM2.5 is the highest in Delhi, followed by UP, Bihar and Haryana.