India’s toxic smog lead to over 1.24 million deaths in 2017, says study

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  • Air pollution in India has led to more diseases than smoking or tobacco use, reveals a recent study on Global Burden of Disease Study 2017 published in the Lancet Planetary Health journal.
  • India covers 18% of the global population, which accounts to significantly higher (26%) global premature deaths caused by air pollution, in contrast.
  • One in every eight deaths in India is a result of air pollution. In fact, if India had not been under serious threat of worsening air pollution levels, the average life expectancy of its citizens would have been 1.7 years more.
Amid the alarming air pollution levels in India, a recent study on Global Burden of Disease Study 2017 in the Lancet Planetary Health journal reveals that air pollution has caused more diseases than the ones caused due to tobacco use or smoking, accounting for over 1.24 million deaths in India in 2017.

The study said, on Thursday, Delhi witnessed the highest exposure to PM 2.5, tiny particles that are most harmful, followed by Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. Major sources of ambient particulate matter pollution in India include burning in thermal power plants, industry emissions, stubble burning and diesel generators. The annual exposure to these tiny particles PM2.5 in India, was 89·9 μg/m3, which was recorded to be the highest in the world.

One in every eight deaths in India resulted from air pollution. In fact, if India had not been under serious threat of worsening air pollution levels, the average life expectancy would have been 1.7 years more for its residents, added the study

India covers 18% of the global population, which accounts to significantly higher (26%) global premature deaths caused by air pollution, in contrast, it pointed out.

Notably, 14 out of 15 most air polluted cities in the world are in India, says a World Health Organisation (WHO) database. It also said that Mexico and Beijing could instruct New Delhi and other Indian cities with ways to combat air pollution as they are aggressively making efforts to counter the situation with cleaner energy options, improved technologies, and promoting the use of public transport.

Despite the current situation of increasing air pollution, 77% of India's population spends time outdoors, which is above the National Ambient Air Quality (NAAQ) safe limit.

Not just this, 56% of population still used solid fuels in households, in 2017.

The study also argued that the reduction in pollution levels has a broader impact than just the well-being of humans, including animal and plant health.

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