India should take “urgent action" to tackle air pollution as the levels of toxic air in many cities of the country are much higher than the recommended guidelines, which could have a major impact on people’s health, World Health Organization (WHO) director Maria Neira said.
Several studies conducted by WHO, Centre for Science and Environment and others published in journals such as The Lancet have linked pollution with premature deaths in India.
Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar recently told Parliament that there was no Indian study to show any correlation between pollution and shortening of lifespan.
“The studies conducted in India have not shown a direct correlation of shortening of life because of pollution. Let us not create a fear psychosis among people," the minister told the House.
When asked to comment on the minister’s speech in the Lok Sabha, Neira told PTI “a very strong scientific evidence is telling us that exposure to air pollution is having a major impact on people’s health." “Independently of which methodology is used or what are the estimates, it is urgent to take action because the levels of air pollution in certain cities in India are very high, and this is definitely having impact on people’s health," noted Neira, director, public health, environment and social determinants of health department (PHE), WHO.
“Therefore, we urge governments to take measures to reduce pollution, to reduce the massive damage this pollution is causing to health of their citizens, particularly in those cities where the levels of air pollution are far beyond those guidelines recommended by the WHO," she said.
A study published last year in The Lancet journal found that one out of every eight deaths in India in 2017 could be attributed to air pollution.
This study showed that India has a higher proportion of global health loss due to air pollution than its proportion of the global population.
This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.