Economy

Air pollution killed 16.7 lakh Indians; knocked off ₹2.6-lakh crore from economy in 2019: Study

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on December 22, 2020 Published on December 22, 2020

The findings also showed that while 40 per cent of the disease burden due to air pollution is from lung diseases, the remaining 60 per cent is from ischemic heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and neonatal deaths related to preterm birth   -  SHIVKUMAR PUSHPAKAR

During 1990-2019, mortality from indoor air pollution fell 64%, but climbed 115% from outdoor ambient air pollution

Air pollution killed 16.7 lakh Indians, accounting for nearly 18 per cent of total deaths, and resulted in an economic loss of ₹2.6-lakh crore, nearly 1.4 per cent of gross domestic product), showed a meticulous planned and executed study by Indian researchers on Tuesday.

The India State-level Disease Burden Initiative (ISLDBI) published in the prestigious medical journal Lancet also showed that while the mortality from indoor air pollution reduced by 64 per cent between 1990 and 2019, that from outdoor ambient air pollution increased by 115 per cent during this period.

The economic loss due to air pollution as a percentage of the state GDP (GSDP) was higher in the northern and central Indian states, with the highest in Uttar Pradesh (2.2 per cent of GSDP) and Bihar (2 per cent of GSDP), the study.

Also read: Long-term exposure to urban air pollutants may make Covid-19 more severe for some population

The ISLDBI was launched in 2015 as a collaborative effort between the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, and a number of other key stakeholders in India, including academic experts and institutions, government agencies and other organisations, under the aegis of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare. Over 300 leading scientists and experts representing about 100 institutions across India are engaged in this collaborative work.

“Improved methods in this paper have led to a higher estimate of the impact of air pollution on health and disease in India than previously estimated. The economic impact of this health loss due to lost productivity is huge, at 1.4 per cent of the country’s GDP in 2019, besides a roughly estimated expenditure of 0.4 per cent of the GDP on treatment of air pollution-related diseases. The health and economic impact of air pollution is highest in the less developed states of India, an inequity that should be addressed,” said Lalit Dandona, ISLDBI Director and senior author of the paper.

“India has many initiatives to reduce air pollution, which can benefit further from the state-specific insights provided in this paper. Investing further in air pollution control will more than return that investment in terms of better health and economic development in India,” remarked Dandona, also a professor at PHFI and National Chair of Population Health at ICMR.

Also read: Covid-19 influenced by atmospheric pollutants exposure: Study

“Various government schemes such as the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana and the Unnat Chulha Abhiyan have aided in reducing household air pollution in India, the benefits of which are suggested in the reducing death rate from it as seen in this paper. Such success encourages us to enhance efforts to reduce outdoor air pollution as well,” said Balram Bhargava, ICMR chief and another senior author of the study, in a statement.

The findings also showed that while 40 per cent of the disease burden due to air pollution is from lung diseases, the remaining 60 per cent is from ischemic heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and neonatal deaths related to preterm birth, highlighting the broad ranging impact of air pollution on human health, Bhargava said.

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Published on December 22, 2020
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