According to a survey by a US research firm, air pollution in the Indian capital, Delhi, the world’s most polluted city, can reduce lives by nearly ten years.
According to the report, at present air quality levels, the average Indian life expectancy is lowered by five years.
According to the WHO, 1.3 billion Indians live in locations where “annual average particle pollution levels” surpass the WHO acceptable guideline of 5g/m3.
The smoggy air that blankets Indian cities during the winter months includes dangerously high amounts of small particulate matter, or PM2.5, which may clog lungs and trigger a variety of ailments.
According to the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago’s (EPIC) Air Quality Life Index, 510 million people in northern India – over 40% of the country’s population – are “on pace” to lose 7.6 years of their lives due to present pollution levels.
Reducing pollution levels to WHO guidelines, on the other hand, would result in a 10-year increase in life expectancy for an estimated 240 million people in Uttar Pradesh, India’s northernmost state.
According to the survey, more than 63 percent of Indians live in locations where air quality exceeds the country’s own limit of 40 g/m3. India, on the other hand, has the highest average particulate matter concentration in the world in 2019, at 70.3 g/m3.
“If Martians arrived to Earth and sprayed a material that caused the average individual on the world to lose more than two years of life expectancy, that would be a global emergency,” Michael Greenstone, one of the report’s authors, said.
“This is comparable to the situation that exists in many regions of the planet, except that we are spraying the drug rather than alien invaders,” he continued.
According to EPIC, particle pollution is the “biggest hazard to human life” in India in terms of life expectancy, and it has grown by 61.4 percent since 1998. This makes it more dangerous than smoking, which cuts life expectancy by 2.5 years.
Industrialisation, economic progress, and the increasing usage of fossil fuels have all contributed to an increase in air pollution in India during the last two decades. According to the survey, the number of automobiles on the country’s highways has surged by fourfold.
It recognizes the government’s efforts to combat air pollution, with the National Clean Air Program (NCAP) aiming to reduce hazardous particulate matter by 20 to 30%.
“If India were to maintain this decrease, it would result in tremendous health advantages,” the paper states, adding that a 25% reduction would raise national life expectancy by 1.4 years and 2.6 years for inhabitants of Delhi.