New Delhi: Air pollution caused more deaths than tobacco in 2017, and is responsible for one in eight deaths in the country.
A comprehensive study published in Lancet Planetary Health journal on Thursday measured PM2.5 exposure levels, and found that the highest concentration was in Delhi followed by Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.
The average life expectancy would have been on an average 1.7 years higher if the pollution levels were within prescribed limits. The numbers are higher for northern states, 2.5 years for Rajasthan, 2.2 years for Uttar Pradesh, the study said adding that 77 per cent of India’s population was exposed to unsafe air quality, higher than the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) safe limit.
The study attributed 12.4 lakh deaths in the country in 2017 to air pollution. Uttar Pradesh recorded the most 2,60,028 deaths, followed by Maharashtra at 1,08,038 and Bihar 96,967.
Of the 12.4 lakh deaths, 6.7 lakh deaths were due to outdoor particulate matters and 4.8 lakh due to household air pollution.
Household air pollution reflected used of soil fuels by around 56 per cent of the population in 2017.
The study prepared with inputs from experts and scientists from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), and Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) along with other collaborators linked air pollution to premature deaths conclusively.
The major sources of ambient particulate matter pollution in India are coal burning in thermal power plants, construction activity, industry emissions, brick kilns, transport vehicles, road dust, residential and commercial biomass burning, waste burning, agricultural stubble burning and diesel generators, it pointed out.
“Leading air pollution scientists from India contributed to this research. This comprehensive effort over several years has for the first time produced what we believe are robust estimates of the health impact of outdoor and household air pollution in every state of India,” said Prof Kalpana Balakrishnan, one of the authors of the study and Director, Department of Environmental Health Engineering, Sri Ramachandra Institute of Higher Education and Research.