Air pollution likely to cut 9 years of life expectancy of 40% of Indians: Study

Air pollution is likely to reduce the life expectancy of about 40% of Indians by more than nine years, according to a new study released by Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC).

The study claims that more than 480 million people living in the vast swathes of central, eastern and northern India, including New Delhi, endure significantly high pollution levels. It also said that India’s high levels of pollution have “alarmingly expanded geographically over time,”

The EPIC report also highlighted that air quality has significantly worsened in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.

If the pollution level 2019 continue, the life expectancy of people living in north India are on track to lose over nine years.

Launched in 2019 to rein the dangerous pollution levels, Lauding India’s National Clean Air Program (NCAP), the EPIC report said that “achieving and sustaining” the NCAP goals would increase India’s overall life expectancy by 1.7 years and that of New Delhi by 3.1 years.

By ensuring cuts in industrial emissions and vehicular exhaust, the NCAP aims to decrease air pollution in the 102 worst-affected cities by 20%-30% by 2024, introducing stringent rules for transport fuels and biomass burning and reduce dust pollution. It will also entail better monitoring systems.

According to a Swiss group IQAir, New Delhi was the world’s most polluted capital for the third straight year in 2020. The Swiss group measures air quality levels on the basis of the concentration of lung-damaging airborne particles called PM2.5.

Previous year, while the national capital’s 20 million residents, breathed some of the cleanest air on record in the summer due to Covid-19 lockdown curbs, battled toxic air in winter following a sharp increase in farm residue burning in the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana.

It further said that neighbouring like Bangladesh could raise average life expectancy by 5.4 years if the country improves air quality to levels recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).

To arrive at the life expectancy number, report compared the health of people exposed to different levels of long-term air pollution and applied the results to various places in India and elsewhere.


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