Over 1.2 million early deaths in India due to air pollution

Mindy Sparks
April 5, 2019

"Air pollution exposures collectively reduce life expectancy by 20 months on average worldwide", University of Texas assistant professor Joshua Apte wrote in the report.

The analysis found long-term exposure to indoor and outdoor pollution contributed to nearly five million deaths in 2017, with fatalities resulting from stroke, heart attack, diabetes, lung cancer and chronic lung disease.

In 2017, China, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Nigeria, United States, Russia, Brazil and Philippines were the ten countries, in descending order, with highest mortality rate due to air pollution.

Meanwhile, for the first time, this year's report and website include worldwide estimates of the effect of air pollution on how long people live, or life expectancy.

Toxic air caused death of more than 1.2 million people in India in 2017, as per a global air pollution report released recently by a US-based organisation Health Effects Institute (HEI).

"In much of the world, just breathing in an average city is the health equivalent to being a heavy smoker", he said.

Out of these, three million deaths are directly attributed to PM 2.5, half of which were from India and China.

Stroke, diabetes, heart attack, lung cancer, and chronic lung disease contributed to five million deaths in 2017.

In East Asia the study says air pollution will shorten children's lives by an estimated 23 months - compared with around 20 weeks for children in developed parts of Asia Pacific and North America.

Ten countries with the highest mortality burden attributable to air pollution in 2017 were China (1.2 million), India (1.2 million), Pakistan (128,000), Indonesia (124,000), Bangladesh (123,000), Nigeria (114,000), the United States (108,000), Russian Federation (99,000), Brazil (66,000), and the Philippines (64,000), the report states. Every year, more people globally die from air pollution related diseases than from road traffic injuries or malaria. Fine particles in ambient air from household air pollution also eats away at health.

India has another unique concern with regard to air pollution - a large population in the country still uses the old-school method of burning solid fuels like coal, wood, charcoal, dung, and other forms of biomass to cook food, and heat and light their houses.

Some of the risks for children from exposure to air pollution are potential damage to brain development, limited lung capacity and the onset of problems like asthma, he said.

As per SoGA's site, "It offers most recent information and analysis on levels and trends in air quality and health globally".

"In China, one of the world's most populous countries and one where air pollution exposures have historically been among the highest, major regulatory reforms appear to be driving substantial reductions in PM2.5 (particulate matter measuring less than 2.5 micrometers) exposure", the conclusion read.

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