MORE than 1.2 million people died in India because of air pollution in 2017, a global report has shown, as data also revealed that deadly air claimed the lives of 128,000 people in Pakistan and 123,000 in Bangladesh.
India and China topped the list of countries with the highest mortality burden attributable to air pollution in 2017. Pakistan was ranked third, and Bangladesh fifth in the State of Global Air 2019 report.
“The analysis found that China and India together were responsible for over half of the total global attributable deaths, with each country facing over 1.2 million deaths from all air pollution in 2017,” the report said.
Air pollution is the third highest cause of death among all health risks in India, ranking just above smoking, said the report released by US-based organisation Health Effects Institute (HEI).
Its findings said the life of a south Asian child born today will be shortened by two years and six months growing up in current high levels of air pollution, while the global life expectancy loss is 20 months.
In 2017, an estimated 846 million people in India (60 per cent of the population) were exposed to household air pollution from the use of solid fuels for cooking.
Meanwhile, India reduced its proportion of households cooking with solid fuels from 76 per cent in 2005 to 60 per cent (846 million) in 2017 due in part to a major government programme to shift households from solid fuels to liquefied petroleum gas.
The Indian government’s initiative, known as Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY), provided liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) connections to 35 million poor families free of charge between 2016 and early 2018 and aims to provide 80 million connections by 2020.
“Worldwide, air pollution is responsible for more deaths than many better-known risk factors such as malnutrition, alcohol use, and physical inactivity,” the report said.
Globally, overall long-term exposure to outdoor and indoor air pollution contributed to 4.9 million deaths from stroke, diabetes, heart attack, lung cancer, and chronic lung disease in 2017.