Pollution Has Killed More Than 2.3Mln People in India, Says Lancet Study
© AP Photo / Manish Swarup
In March, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said that air pollution had reduced life expectancy in India by 1.5 years. This is higher than the reduction in life expectancy from all forms of cancers (1.39 years).
Pollution in India in 2009 led to more than 2.3 million premature deaths - the highest among all countries - and in China caused 2.1 million deaths, according to a new study published in The Lancet Planetary Health journal.
The report used data collected by the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study conducted before the COVID pandemic.
Of the 2.35 million deaths, air pollution alone caused about 980,000 fatalities. Another 610,000 occurred because of household air pollution.
According to the study, nine million people died worldwide because of pollution in 2019, which is equivalent to one in six deaths.
Air pollution - both ambient and household - was responsible for 6.67 million deaths, and water pollution caused 1.4 million deaths. Lead pollution caused 900,000 fatalities.
The study reveals that more than 90 percent of pollution-related deaths occurred in low-income and middle-income countries.
According to the report, air pollution is most severe in the Indo-Gangetic Plain, which includes New Delhi, among other polluted cities.
“Burning of biomass in households was the single largest cause of air pollution deaths in India, followed by coal combustion and crop burning,” the report explained.
However, the report also sheds light on moves made by the federally ruling government — the National Clean Air Programme launched a Commission for Air Quality Management and the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, under the auspices of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, launched the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana programme in 2016 to provide poor homes with liquefied petroleum gas to help impoverished rural women change their cooking habits.
However, India does not have a strong centralised administration to drive its air pollution control efforts, and consequently, improvements in overall air quality have been slow to take effect and are limited and uneven, the report revealed.