One in eight deaths in India last year was attributable to air pollution, which contributes to more disease burden than tobacco use, a study said Thursday while asserting the highest exposure to ultra-fine particulate matter, PM2.5, was in Delhi followed by Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.
Around 12.4 lakh deaths in India in 2017 is attributable to air pollution, it said and termed air pollution a leading risk factor for deaths in the country where the average life expectancy would have been 1.7 years higher if the pollution levels were less than the minimal level causing health loss.
“The average life expectancy in India would have been 1.7 years higher if the air pollution levels were less than the minimal level causing health loss, with the highest increases in the northern states of Rajasthan (2.5 years), Uttar Pradesh (2.2 years), and Haryana (2.1 years),” study said.
The study, published in the Lancet Planetary Health journal, asserted that with 18 per cent of the global population, India suffered 26 per cent of premature mortality and health loss attributable to air pollution globally.
Over half of the 12.4 lakh deaths in India attributable to air pollution in 2017 were of those aged less than 70, it said and asserted that 77 per cent of India’s population is exposed to outdoor air pollution levels above the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) safe limit.
The northern Indian states had particularly high outdoor air pollution levels, the study said. Uttar Pradesh, last year, recorded the most 2,60,028 deaths attributable to air pollution, followed by Maharashtra at 1,08,038 and Bihar 96,967, it said.
The first comprehensive estimates of the impact of air pollution on deaths, health loss and life expectancy reduction in each state of India said there were 6.7 lakh deaths due to particulate matters outdoors and 4.8 lakh deaths due to household air pollution.