Clear the air, pollution is cutting avg Indian life expectancy by 5 years, Delhi’s by 10: Report
The deadly impact of air pollution is most prominent in South Asia, especially India, where residents are expected to lose about five years of their lives on an average, if the current high levels of pollution persist. The alarming, yet significant, assertions have emerged from the latest edition of the Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) released by Energy Policy Institute of India (EPIC) University of Chicago, South Asia, on Tuesday.
According to the analysis, based on new and revised satellite-derived PM2.5 data of all countries in the world, India faces the highest health burden of air pollution due to its high particulate pollution concentrations and large population.
“It would be a global emergency if Martians came to Earth and sprayed a substance that caused the average person on the planet to lose more than two years of life expectancy. This is similar to the situation that prevails in many parts of the world, except we are spraying the substance, not some invaders from outer space,” said Milton Friedman, Distinguished Service Professor in Economics Michael Greenstone, who developed the AQLI along with his team at the EPIC-India.
The index quantifies the long-term effect of air pollution on human life, and takes into account hyper-localised, global particulate measurements.
BREACHING WHO GUIDELINE
During the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic, the world’s economy slowed. Yet, the global annual average particulate pollution (PM2.5) was largely unchanged from 2019 levels. At the same time, growing evidence shows air pollution—even when experienced at very low levels—hurts human health.
This recently led the World Health Organization (WHO) to revise its guideline (from 10 µg/m³ to 5 µg/m³) for what it considers a safe level of exposure to particulate pollution, bringing most of the world—97.3% of the global population—into the unsafe zone.