• Sunday, September 24, 2023


People of Delhi on track to lose nearly 12 years of life due to pollution: study

The warning came just days ahead of the Indian capital hosting the G20 summit where leaders from across the world will gather.

An Indian youth wears a pollution mask participates in a march to raise awareness of air pollution levels in New Delhi on November 15, 2017. (Photo by PRAKASH SINGH/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

IN an alarming finding, a new study has said that the residents of Delhi, the capital city of India, are set to lose nearly 12 years of life if the current levels of pollution persist.

The Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) released by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago, US, which gave the warning, also showed that all of India’s 1.3 billion people live in areas where the annual average particulate pollution level exceeds the 5 µg/m3 limit set by World Health Organization (WHO).

The warning came just days ahead of New Delhi hosting the G20 summit where leaders from across the world will gather.

The study also found that 67.4 per cent of the country’s population lives in areas that exceed the country’s own national air quality standard of 40 µg/m3.

The study said fine particulate air pollution (PM2.5) shortens an average Indian’s life expectancy by 5.3 years, relative to what it would be if the 5 µg/m3 pollution limit set by WHO was met.

The AQLI said that Delhi is the most polluted city in the world with its 18 million residents on track to lose 11.9 years of life expectancy on average relative to the WHO limit and 8.5 years relative to the national guideline if the current pollution levels persist.

“Even in the least polluted district in the region — Pathankot in Punjab — particulate pollution is more than seven times the WHO limit, taking 3.1 years off life expectancy if current levels persist,” it said.

Though particulate pollution in the northern plains is exacerbated by geologic and meteorological factors, the AQLI’s dust and sea salt-removed PM 2.5 data imply that human activity plays a key role in generating severe particulate pollution.

That is likely because the region’s population density is nearly three times the rest of the country, meaning more pollution from vehicular, residential and agricultural sources, the study said.

“Three-quarters of air pollution’s impact on global life expectancy occurs in just six countries — Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, China, Nigeria and Indonesia — where people lose one to more than six years of their lives because of the air they breathe,” said Michael Greenstone, the Milton Friedman Distinguished Service Professor in Economics and creator of AQLI.

(With PTI inputs)

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