1 out of 8 deaths due to air pollution

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on December 06, 2018 Published on December 06, 2018

Average life expectancy is 1.7 years lesser due to pollution

One out of every eight deaths in India can be attributed to air pollution, a study conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the Union Health Ministry says. In 2017, 12.4 lakh people died due to air pollution, accounting for 12.5 per cent of total deaths in the country.

The study titled ‘The impact of air pollution on deaths, disease burden and life expectancy across the States of India’ is the culmination of the work of 76 experts from various institutes of repute who came together to produce evidence corroborating the fact that air pollution kills. The findings have been published in The Lancet.

Earlier, it was estimated that air pollution could take away four years of a person’s life. Now, more reliable estimates claim that the average life expectancy of an Indian — which is 69 years — is reduced by 1.7 years due to air pollution.

Indoor pollution

While 6.7 lakh people are estimated to die of ambient (outdoor) air pollution, 4.8 lakh die of indoor air pollution as they use solid fuels for cooking. In 2017, over 75 per cent of the population used solid fuels in Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha.

Air pollution leads to lower respiratory tract infections, chronic pulmonary obstructive disorder, Ischemic heart disease, stroke, diabetes, lung cancer and cataract.

Up to 369 ground-level monitoring stations and satellite-based aerosol optical depth data have been calibrated to measure outdoor air pollution. “There were many rural areas where ground-level monitoring stations did not exist. We had to take satellite data and then calibrate it accordingly to arrive at the estimates,” said Lalit Dandona, Professor, Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI).

UP, worst-hit

Of all States, Uttar Pradesh fared the worst with an estimated 2.6 lakh people succumbing to air pollution. Of this, 78,888 died due to household air pollution.

The ICMR is also carrying out studies to understand whether levels of particulate matter 2.5, which wreaks the most havoc in lungs and blood stream, can be assayed in the blood, said ICMR Director General Balram Bhargava. “PM 2.5 are minute particles which are known to enter alveoli in the lungs and from thereon the blood stream, causing inflammations and deposition of plaque leading to stroke. We are yet to figure out how to test PM 2.5 levels in the blood,” said Bhargava.


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Published on December 06, 2018
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