Air pollution has shortened the average Indian life expectancy by 5.2 years, according to data released by air quality life index (AQLI), a tool developed by the Energy Policy Institute of The University of Chicago (EPIC).
The report named as Annual report on Air Quality Life Index has revealed many parameters on life expectancy related with air pollution in India and other countries across the globe.
The report, released in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh showed air pollution problem that was severe in India in the late 90’s only worsened further in recent years with an estimated life expectancy loss of 3.4 years in 1998, 4.8 years in 2010 and 6.1 years in 2016.
AQLI, which looks at the impact of particulate air pollution on life expectancy, said particulate pollution in India has increased by 42% in the last two decades and was the greatest risk to human health before covid-19. It will remain the greatest risk after covid-19, it said.
At present, 84% of Indians live in areas where the pollution levels exceed the country’s own air quality standards, while the entire population is exposed to levels that exceed the WHO guidelines, the report said.
Lucknow was seen to have the highest level of pollution in the country, with pollution 11 times greater than the WHO guideline.
The National Capital Territory of Delhi is the 15th most-polluted region in the country as per the analysis, which relies on satellite data. The average PM 2.5 concentration was 106 micrograms per cubic metres which can lead to loss of 9.4 life years compared to if Delhi had met the WHO guidelines for air quality.
“Though the threat of coronavirus is grave and deserves every bit of the attention it is receiving, perhaps more in some places, embracing the seriousness of air pollution with a similar vigour would allow billions of people around the world to lead longer and healthier lives," said Michael Greenstone, the Milton Friedman Distinguished Service Professor in economics and creator of the AQLI.