High air pollution to lower average life expectancy by 7 years as per Energy Policy Institute study

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 14 Jun 2022

Around 51 crore people living in Northern regions of the country pose the risk of losing 7.6 years of their average life if the current dangerously high levels of air pollution persists, claims a study released by Energy Policy Institute, an associate of University of Chicago. 

A report by new agency PTI referring to Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC)'s Air Quality Life Index stated that about 44 percent of the world's increase in pollution has come from India since 2013. Since 1998, India's average annual particulate pollution has increased by 61.4 percent, the report added, highlighting that on an overall level air pollution is shortening average Indian life expectancy by five years. The impact apparently seems to be more severe along the Indo-Gangetic plains of northern India which is home to 510 million residents- translating to nearly 40 percent of the country's population. Further, even as air pollution severity differs depending on the areas, it shouldn't come as a shock that the lives of people living in Delhi and NCR regions- considered amongst the most polluted may see the lives of those living there getting shorter alarmingly by around 10 years on average, the report continues. Delhi and NCR region witnesses severe smogs during winter on account of agricultural waste burning in neighbouring states. 

India is the world's second most polluted country after Bangladesh. More than 63 percent of the population live in areas that exceed the country's own national air quality standard of 40 g/m3. In contrast, child and maternal malnutrition reduces average life expectancy by about 1.8 years, while smoking reduces the average life expectancy by 1.5 years, it added. Globally, the AQLI found that particulate air pollution takes 2.2 years off global average life expectancy, or a combined 17 billion life years, relative to a world that met the WHO guideline (5 g/m3).

The study comes on the heels of the World Air Quality Report 2021 released by Swiss based IQAir in March suggesting Delhi to be the most polluted capital in the world for the fourth straight consecutive year. In 2021, none of the cities in India met the prescribed World Health Organization air quality standards of 5 micrograms per cubic meter, stated the World Air Quality Report 2021.

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