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| Last Updated:: 21/10/2017

At 2.5 million, India tops list of pollution-related deaths in world - Study












New Delhi: A new study revealed that India accounts for the maximum number of premature deaths from pollution in the world in 2015, with as many as 2.5 million people dying prematurely in the country in that year due to illnesses linked to environmental pollution. 




As per a major study published in the medical journal The Lancet, as many as 2.5 million people died because of pollution in India in 2015, a figure which is more than total number of deaths due to smoking, hunger, and natural disasters. Perhaps, even more than AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined. The report said that globally the number of pollution-related deaths stood at 9 million. 




The report also said that one in six of all deaths worldwide is caused by pollution, and the vast majority occur in developing countries. “With globalisation, mining and manufacturing shifted to poorer countries, where environmental regulations and enforcement can be lax,” said Karti Sandilya, one of the authors and an adviser to environmental group Pure Earth.




China, the previous claimant to this unenviable position, has now been pushed to the second spot with its current figure of 1.8 million pollution-related deaths in 2015.




Exposure to high levels of air pollution, especially over many years, can affect human respiratory and inflammatory systems and can lead to heart disease, stroke and lung cancer. 




“People in poorer countries - like construction workers in New Delhi - are more exposed to air pollution and less able to protect themselves from exposure, as they walk, bike or ride the bus to workplaces that may also be polluted,” Sandilya added. 




In contrast, many people in developed countries commute to air-conditioned offices in air-conditioned cars, he told. Moreover, billions in developing countries cook on open fires with wood or coal, exposing people - mainly women and children - to dangerous fumes. 




Earlier this year, the State of Global Air 2017 report showed that India has witnessed a 150 per cent rise in lives lost over the past two decades from ozone pollutants. To combat high pollution levels in the city, the Supreme Court recently imposed a ban on the sale of firecrackers in Delhi and National Capital Region (NCR) few days ahead of Diwali, but to no avail. 




Although the air quality in the national capital this Diwali was better than last year, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on Friday reported that the Air Quality Index (AQI) value on Thursday night was recorded at 319, categorising it in a 'very poor' category. 




The Lancet report added dirty air caused the highest number of deaths - 6.5 million.The report was prepared from a research conducted by about 40 international scientists, who used data from the Global Burden of Disease study from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.