India suffered $36.8 billion loss in 2019 due to air pollution: Study

Air pollution caused over 16.7 lakh deaths in India in 2019 causing economic losses of nearly $36.8 billion (Rs 2,71,446 crore), according to a study published in The Lancet Planetary Health journal.

Exposure to air pollution and economic loss due to premature deaths and morbidity attributable to air pollution in India, 2019/Source: Lancet Study

The study, conducted by researchers from AIIMS, ICMR, and IIT-Delhi and titled ‘Global Burden of Disease Study, 2019’, measured the economic impact of air pollution, both indoor and outdoor, as it caused loss of output due to premature deaths and morbidity. 

Further, 0·98 million deaths were attributable to ambient particulate matter pollution, 0·61 million to household air pollution, and 0·17 million to ambient ozone pollution.

Delhi had the highest per-capita economic loss due to air pollution, followed by Haryana in 2019, according to the study.

Here are some key findings of the report:

1. The crude death rate per 100 000 population due to household air pollution decreased in India by 64·2% from 1990 to 2019, while that due to ambient particulate matter pollution increased by 115·3%.

2. The economic loss due to lost output from premature deaths and illness attributable to air pollution (outdoor and household) as a percentage of state GDP was 1.08% in Delhi.

3. The highest loss to GDP was recorded by Uttar Pradesh at 2.15% followed by Bihar at 1.95% and Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan lost 1.70% each.

4. When it comes to impact of outdoor air pollution alone on state GDP, Delhi recorded a loss of 1.06% to its GDP. The highest loss to GDP was recorded by Uttar Pradesh at 1.34% followed by Punjab at 1.22%.

5. The economic losses amounted to 1.36 per cent of India’s total gross domestic product (GDP).

6. Of the total economic loss, 36·6% was from lung diseases, which included chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (21·1%), lower respiratory infections (14·2%), and lung cancer (1·2%). The rest was from ischaemic heart disease (24·9%), stroke (14·1%), diabetes (8·4%), neonatal disorders (13·3%), and cataract (2·7%).

India has a good economic and development trajectory, which can improve further with the reduction of air pollution, the scientific paper noted.

NITI Aayog member Prof Vinod Paul said, “India has many ongoing major initiatives to reduce air pollution. This paper provides a robust assessment of the trends and current situation in each state and highlights that augmenting the existing air pollution control efforts based on the specific situation of each state would be useful.”

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