Friday, 19 April, 2019

Toxic air caused 1.2 million deaths in India in 2017

Over 1.2 million early deaths in India due to air pollution Report Reuters
Cary Marshall | 05 April, 2019, 21:27

It is, in fact, the third highest cause of death among all health risks, the study showed.

"It took about a dozen years and a recession for the United States to achieve the same percentage reduction in particulate pollution that China has achieved in such a short time", said Michael Greenstone, Milton Friedman Distinguished Service Professor in Economics and Director of the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC).

But in South Asia, the report warns, children born today will have their lives cut short by nearly 30 months, because of a combination of outdoor air pollution caused by traffic, industry and dirty indoor air, largely from cooking fires.

Air pollution accounts for 41% of global deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, 20% from type 2 diabetes, 19% from lung cancer, 16% from ischaemic heart disease, and 11% of deaths from stroke, according to the report, described as the most systematic annual study of the health effects of global air pollution. Babies born here face lost life of around two years and six months, the report found.

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

Every year, more people die from air pollution-related illnesses in the world than road traffic injuries or malaria.

This when current exposure to outdoor and indoor air pollution contributed to over 1.2 million deaths in India in 2017, according to a new global study, State of Global Air 2019 (SOGA2019), released on Wednesday.

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Household air pollution is another key issue, with 3.6 billion people estimated to be exposed globally, with a "double whammy" for the health of those also exposed to high levels of outdoor pollution.

China has made initial progress, beginning to achieve air pollution declines. More than 1.2 million early deaths were caused by air pollution in each country that year.

For household air pollution, the research determined the main causes included the burning of smoky fuels such as wood or coal for cooking.

Frank Kelly, a professor of environmental health at King's College in London, said that until recently little data had been available on air pollution challenges in sub-Saharan Africa.

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 added. Robert O'Keefe, vice president, Health Effects Institute, Boston, says: "India has initiated major steps to address pollution sources: the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana Household LPG programme, accelerated Bharat Stage VI vehicle standards, and the new National Clean Air Programme". Of these, three million deaths are directly attributed to PM2.5, half of which are generated from India and China together.

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

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