Air pollution shortens average life expectancy of an Indian by 5.2 years1 min read . Updated: 28 Jul 2020, 05:46 PM IST
- Currently, 84% of the population lives in areas where pollution levels exceed India-set air quality standards while all Indians are exposed to levels that breach WHO guideline
NEW DELHI: A quarter of the country's population is exposed to pollution levels not seen in any other country and an average Indian sees its life cut short by more than five years relative to what it could be if World Health Organization's (WHO) guideline was met, indicated data released by Air Quality Life Index (AQLI), a tool developed by the Energy Policy Institute at The University of Chicago (EPIC).
AQLI, which converts particulate air pollution to its impact on life expectancy, said such pollution in India has risen a sharp 42% over the last two decades, and was the greatest risk to human health before covid-19 struck.
Currently, 84% of the population lives in areas where pollution levels exceed even India-set air quality standards while all Indians are exposed to levels that breach WHO guideline, the report said.
Citing examples, the report said nearly 230 million residents of Uttar Pradesh are on track to lose more than eight years of life expectancy relative to the WHO guideline.
Similarly, Delhi residents could see more than nine years added to their lives if the national capitalpollution levels met the WHO guideline.
"Though the threat of coronavirus is grave and deserves every bit of the attention it is receiving—perhaps more in some places—embracing the seriousness of air pollution with a similar vigour would allow billions of people around the world to lead longer and healthier lives," said Michael Greenstone, the Milton Friedman Distinguished Service Professor in Economics and creator of the AQLI. He called for a robust public policy to curb air pollution.
In 2019, the Centre had declared a "war on pollution" and announced the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) to reduce particulate pollution by 20-30%, relative to 2017 levels, by 2024.
A nationwide reduction of 25%—the midpoint of the NCAP’s target—would increase average life expectancy in India by 1.6 years.