NEW DELHI: A Health Ministry study published in Lancet in 2018 said India’s average life expectancy would have increased 1.7 years if air pollution was low, but Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar appeared to dismiss such a suggestion. Replying to a question in the Lok Sabha on Friday, he said no Indian study shows pollution shortens lifespan.
“Let us not create a fear psychosis among people. Indian studies have not shown a correlation between shortening of life and pollution,” he said, adding the government has been taking pro-active steps to curb pollution. He seems to have missed the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017 published in Lancet in December 2018 on the impact of air pollution on deaths, disease burden and life expectancy across India. The study established a linkage between pollution and lifespan.
“If the air pollution levels in India had been lower than the theoretical minimum risk exposure levels associated with health loss, the average life expectancy in India in 2017 would have been higher by 1.7 years, with this increase exceeding two years in the north Indian states of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Haryana,” said the study.
It noted if the exposure to ambient particulate matter pollution were lower than the minimum levels associated with health loss, the average life expectancy would have risen 0.9 years. While Javadekar said there are no Indian studies, the Lancet study clearly says, “The work of this Initiative has been approved by the Health Ministry Screening Committee at the Indian Council of Medical Research and the ethics committee of the Public Health Foundation of India.”