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1 out of 8 deaths due to air pollution

1 out of 8 deaths due to air pollution

New Delhi: In a shocking revelation, it has come to the notice that one out of every eight deaths in India was attributable to air pollution in 2017.

According to the latest report released by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Thursday, the air pollution has hit the life expectancy drastically as the average life expectancy at birth in 2017 would have been 1.7 years higher if the air pollution level were less than the minimal level causing death loss. Previously, the average life expectancy was 4 years higher.

The ICMR report asserted that the highest exposure to ultra-fine particulate matter, PM2.5, was in Delhi followed by Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. The condition is also not better in the states of Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Assam.

According to the report, which is published in the Lancet Planetary Health journal, Uttar Pradesh recorded the most 2,60,028 deaths attributable to air pollution, followed by Maharashtra at 1,08,038 and Bihar with 96,967 deaths. West Bengal reported 94,534 deaths due to air pollution, the report said.

Interestingly, the death figure in Delhi is much lesser than other states, where air pollution has never been an issue. The national capital reported 12,322 deaths, while neighbouring Haryana reported 28,965 deaths 90,499 people died in Rajasthan in the year 2017.

The findings of the report also indicate that air quality has substantially improved in different states due to extensive usage of LPG cylinders distributed under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana.

"It's a fact that usage of LPG cylinders has reduced household air pollution as after the launch of the scheme, the proportion of households using solid fuels has improved. Now, about 56 per cent of the population still used solid fuels in 2017, which was more in previous years.

The proportion was much higher in less developed states with over two-thirds of the population in most of the empowered action group (EAG) states using solid fuels for cooking," said Balram Bhargava, Director General of ICMR.

As per the report, India reported 12.4 lakh deaths in 2017 due to air pollution, which included 6.7 lakh deaths due to outdoor particulate matter air pollution and 4.8 lakh have died due to household air pollution.

The findings of the report stated that over half of the deaths due to air pollution were in persons less than 70 years of age.

As per the report, India has disproportionately high mortality and disease burden due to air pollution and the burden is highest in the low socio-demographic index (SDI) states of north India.

"Although air pollution is commonly thought to be associated with lung disease, a substantial 38 per cent of the disease burden due to air pollution in India is from cardiovascular disease and diabetes," report said.

As per the study, another notable aspect of air pollution in India is its contribution to the disease burden from ischaemic heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer which are commonly associated with smoking.

According to the WHO database of air pollution, 14 of the 15 cities with the worst air pollution in the world are in India.

Dhirendra Kumar

Dhirendra Kumar

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