While it is known that India is almost at par with its neighbour China as the world’s most polluted country, a new study by the US-based Health Effects Institute in Boston suggests that Indians are susceptible to greater health risks from air pollution than people living in China.
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After perusing satellite and air pollution data from 1990 to 2015 from different countries across the world, the group of scientists and doctors found that levels of air pollution have increased exponentially across northern India and Bangladesh since 2010.
India’s poor air quality causes nearly 1.1 million premature deaths every year, almost at par with China. The two countries, together, account for 2.2 million deaths every year – more than half of the global total.
While the rate of ozone-related deaths has increased by 150 per cent in India between 1990 and 2015, the numbers have remained stable in China and some European countries. India also recorded almost 50 percent increase in premature deaths linked to PM 2.5 particles during this period. These fine PM 2.5 particles float in the air and get lodged deep inside the lungs, causing greater risks of cancer, chronic bronchitis and other heart diseases. The problems have cropped up because of the increase in vehicular traffic, emissions from coal-fired power plants and other industrial facilities and fires fueled by wood and dung.
While China rolled out an aggressive campaign for pollution control which has now stabilised the levels in the country, reporting 1.1 million deaths since 2005, India does not have an aggressive approach in place. Thus, the number of premature deaths have steadily climbed from an estimated 737,400 in 1990 to 1.1 million in 2015 alone.
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According to the World Health Organisation, New Delhi is the 11th most polluted city in the world. In November last year, the city was reeling under an air pollution emergency after toxic smog from burning fire-crackers and crops had engulfed the city and a vast part of northern India skyrocketing the pollution levels to six times more than what is acceptable.
The Logical Indian urges the government to enforce the environmental laws and policies strictly so that we can reduce the health problems caused by PM 2.5 and PM 10 particles in the air.
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