NEW DELHI: If you haven’t taken air pollution seriously, it is time you did. A new report warns bad air can cut short average Indian life expectancy by as much as 5.2 years.
Those living in north Indian cities, where pollution levels are higher than other parts of the country, may see their life expectancy cut short by u 10 years.
Life expectancy in Uttar Pradesh is projected to drop by 8.6 years, while residents of Lucknow — the most polluted city according to the report — stand to lose 10.3 years. Lucknow’s current pollution levels are 11 times more than WHO norms.
The national capital is close behind, with Delhi residents set to lose as much as 9.4 years. According to the report released on Tuesday by the Energy Policy Institute at University of Chicago, India is the world’s second most polluted country.
It says 1.4 billion people live in areas where the annual average particulate pollution level exceeds WHO guidelines. Plus, 84% live in areas where it exceeds India’s own air quality standards.
“Particulate pollution has sharply increased over time. Since 1998, average annual particulate pollution has increased 42 percent, cutting 1.8 years off the life of the average resident over those years. A quarter of India’s population is exposed to pollution levels not seen in any other country, with 248 million residents of northern India on track to lose more than 8 years of life expectancy if pollution levels persist,” says the report.
The Centre announced the National Clean Air Programme to reduce particulate pollution by 20-30% relative to 2017 levels by 2024.
“Though NCAP goals are non-binding, if India does achieve this reduction, it would lead to remarkable health improvements: a nationwide reduction of 25%, the midpoint of the NCAP’s target, would increase national life expectancy by 1.6 years, and by 3.1 years for Delhi residents,” it adds.
“The Air Quality Life Index shows not only the damage but also the enormous gains that can be made with policies to address it (air pollution),” said Michael Greenstone, director, EPIC.