Air pollution causes highest number of deaths in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh

Pat Wise
April 6, 2019

The State of Global Air 2019 report, prepared by the non-profit Health Effects Institute, reveals that India and China recorded about 1.2 million deaths triggered by air pollution each in 2017 (the year the study considered).

"This means a child born today will die 20 months sooner, on average, than would be expected in the absence of air pollution", the report said. And it only rivals smoking.

In South Asia, where air pollution levels are the highest, the life expectancy for children born in countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh falls by more than 30 months, according to the annual State of Global Air report, published by the Health Effects Institute, a US -based nonprofit research group. While around 82% of the disease burden attributable to air pollution stems from chronic non-communicable diseases, it also contributes to communicable disease.

A Supreme Court order in January a year ago had directed authorities to immediately curb air pollution and effectively implement national standards of vehicle emissions and ensure air quality standards in the spirit of the constitution but there has been no government action. Each of the two countries - India and China - registered over 1.2 million deaths in 2017 from air pollution - which includes ambient as well as household air pollution.

"Many efforts are underway to shift households to cleaner energy sources". "When considered separately, exposure to ambient PM2.5 is responsible for just over 1 year, household air pollution is responsible for nearly 9 months, and ozone is responsible for less than 1 month of life span lost", it states.

But despite the rapid progress, the SOGA report said there was still much work to be done, with the average Chinese air pollution data far below the World Health Organization's air quality standards.

The three other countries in the region with risky levels of pollution are India (91 μg/m3), Bangladesh (61 μg/m3) and Pakistan (58 μg/m3).

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"In recent years China has begun to move aggressively to reduce air pollution...."

Ozone pollution is another challenge in more-developed countries.

With air pollution making the list for WHO's top health threats in 2019, along with the anti-vaccination movement, the future generation really doesn't stand a chance. "The largest numbers of deaths were in India (482,000) where 60% of the population cooks with solid fuels, followed by China (271,000) where 32% of the population does".

The study "State of Global Air 2019" released by the US -based Health Effects Institute (HEI) produces latest information on air quality and health for countries around the globe.

India witnesses the highest impact of household pollution, mainly triggered by cooking with fossil fuels.

The report also noted, "Each year, more people die from air pollution-related disease than from road traffic injuries or malaria". The report cites some action on India's part too.

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