Air pollution cuts life expectancy in India’s capital by 10 years, study finds

New Delhi. Air pollution in major South Asian cities has shortened the life expectancy of people living there by up to 10 years, even though COVID-19 lockdowns have slowed economic activities since 2020, according to a report. new study by an American research group. New Delhi, the capital of India, has been ranked as the the most polluted city in the worldwhere people have lost almost 10 years of their lives to air pollution, according to the study commissioned by the Energy Policy Institute (EPIC) at the University of Chicago.

Air pollution has shortened life expectancy in New Delhi by up to 10 years and in the whole country by five years, according to the study. The study ranked Bangladesh as the most polluted country in the world overall, followed by India, Nepal and Pakistan.

People living in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka are losing almost nine years of their lives due to air pollution, while the national average is 6.9 years, according to the research.

EPIC’s “Air Quality Life Index” study translates particulate air pollution into a real impact on life expectancy by calculating how long people in a given population would live if the World Health Organization (WHO) guideline for an annual average particle pollution of 5 μg /m³ it was fulfilled.

Levels of the most dangerous air pollution, fine particulate matter known as PM2.5, in Delhi are more than 10 times the WHO’s safe limit. PM2.5 particles can penetrate and settle deep into the lungs, causing serious health problems, including respiratory and heart disease.

The study notes that more than 500 million people living in northern India are “on track” to lose 7.6 years of their lives, on average, if high levels of pollution are not addressed.

“The report is definitely alarming, although such studies have also appeared in the past,” Professor Sachchida Nand Tripathi, an Indian scientist who researches air quality, told CBS News.

Some 44% of global pollution since 2013 has come from India, according to EPIC research. The country has witnessed a huge increase in air pollution in recent decades due to rapid industrialization and a heavy reliance on fossil fuels. The number of vehicles on the country’s roads has increased fourfold, the report says. India struggles to switch to cleaner fuels, but experts have told CBS News it’s not going to be easy to kick the domestic coal habit.

“It will take us about 15 years to see a tangible reduction in particulate matter … a significant reduction could take two to four decades,” Tripathi told CBS News.

He is a panel member for the Indian government’s National Clean Air Program (NCAP), which is working on a plan to reduce PM2.5 in 122 cities by 20% to 30% by 2024, compared to levels of 2017.

Air pollution in Nepal, the third most polluted country, and in Pakistan, the fourth most polluted country, reduced life expectancy by 4.1 years and 3.8 years, respectively, according to the EPIC study. But some of the districts in the two countries, including Lahore and Peshawar in Pakistan, are as bad as Bangladesh, where people’s lives are shortened by almost seven years, according to research.

The study indicates that more than a billion people living in South Asia may already have suffered serious health impacts.

Tripathi said “rapid economic growth, high population density, and a unique topography that creates a peculiar climatic effect” are all likely factors contributing to the high levels of air pollution in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal.

The study says that, globally, air pollution is reducing life expectancy by 2.2 years. That’s an impact on par with smoking, and more than three times greater than alcohol consumption and non-drinking water.

“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,” said Michael Greenstone, an economics professor who co-created the planet’s contamination. epic air. life expectancy index. “This is similar to the situation that prevails in many parts of the world, except that we are spraying the substance, not some invaders from outer space.”

The study says that air pollution has been reduced in both the US and Europe, but most people in both still live in areas that do not meet the standards set by the WHO.

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