India’s Air Pollution Rivals China’s as World’s Deadliest

The number of premature deaths in China caused by dangerous air particles, known as particulate matter or just particulates, has stabilized globally in recent years but has risen nearly 50% in India, according to the report, issued jointly on Tuesday by the Health Effects Institute, a Boston research institute focused on the health impacts of air pollution, and the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, a population health research center in Seattle. Premature deaths from particulate matter each year have stabilized in China at around 1.1 million since 2005, the report said. Still, that is an increase of 17 percent since 1990, when it was a little more than 945,000. The rapidly worsening air pollution in India is causing about the same amount of people to die prematurely each year and is now surpassing China’s as the deadliest in the world, a new study of global air pollution shows. The confluence of rapid industrialization, population growth and an aging populace in India that is more susceptible to air pollution are the reason for the rapid growth in casualties.

The health effects of the ultra-fine particles (PM1 and PM2.5, read also are still being studied and we  are only beginning to understand the full effects, said Majid Ezzati, a global environmental health professor at the Imperial College, London. “As these studies are hard to do, and isolating the effects of air pollution is hard, the numbers are still dynamic and nobody should claim an exact number of deaths is known”, and he said further: “But if he were an Indian citizen, he said, “I’d say, ‘Let’s not sit there and do nothing about it. Let’s not be exposed to it today as more research is being done.”

A Greenpeace’s report only recently published titled ‘Airpocalypse,’ says Delhi is India’s most polluted city. The report is based on information obtained through online reports and Right to Information applications from State Pollution Control Boards across India, and assessments of air quality performed in 168 cities across 24 states and Union Territories. It claims that none of the 168 cities assessed complies with air quality standards prescribed by the World Health Organization (WHO). The report says the number of deaths in India caused by air pollution is only a “fraction less” than the number of deaths caused by tobacco usage, and adds that three per cent of the GDP (appr. 68 billion USD) is lost due to air pollution.  Sunil Dahiya, a campaigner of Greenpeace India said “We are facing an apocalypse right now due to unbreathable air, deaths due to air pollution are only a fraction less than those due to use of tobacco yet authorities are laying a deaf ear to the numerous scientific reports that have set alarm bells ringing,” said .  Weak environmental regulation in India, leaves India’s citizens with few alternatives other than to petition the courts to take action to protect the public’s health.

4 replies
    • james
      james says:

      That’s not a picture which tourists prefer to see. In some cases the smog is so dense that it is hard to spot the Taj Mahal at all.

  1. Barney
    Barney says:

    China’s cities are not topping the list anymore. According to WHO the most polluted cities are Zabol (Iran), Gwalior and Allahabad (India), Riyadh and Jubail (Saudi Arabia). Air pollution is now a global problem. It is everywhere.

  2. Keit
    Keit says:

    But still Asia is a leading producer of air pollution, more than 99 percent of Asian cities are exceeding WHO guidelines for PM2.5


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