Air pollution has shortened the average Indian life expectancy by 5.2 years and residents of Delhi could see 9.4 years added to their lives if pollution were reduced to meet the WHO guideline, according to a new analysis of the Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) produced by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC).
The World Health Organisation guideline stipulates that PM2.5 (particulate matter less than 2.5 microns in diameter) not exceed 10 micron per cubic metre and that PM10 (particulate matter less than 10 microns in diameter) not exceed 20 micron per cubic metre.
In India, average PM2.5 concentration in 2018 was 63 micron per cubic metre, said the new analysis.
The study found that across India’s total population, life expectancy would increase by 5.2 years if pollution is reduced in accordance with WHO guidelines.
Key Findings of the Report
- The particulate pollution has sharply increased over time.
- Since 1998, average annual particulate pollution has increased 42 per cent, cutting 1.8 years off the life of the average resident over those years.
- A quarter of India’s population is exposed to pollution levels not seen in any other country.
- 248 million residents of northern India on track to lose more than 8 years of life expectancy if pollution levels persist.
- Lucknow was seen to have the highest level of pollution in the country, with pollution 11 times greater than the WHO guideline.
- Residents of Lucknow stand to lose 10.3 years of life expectancy if pollution persists.
- Residents of Delhi could see 9.4 years added to their lives if pollution were reduced to meet the WHO guideline and 6.5 years if pollution met India’s national standard.
- Citizens in states like Bihar and West Bengal can add more than 7 years to their life if air quality met the WHO guideline.
- Four countries that account for nearly a quarter of the world’s population — Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan — are also among the most polluted, with northern India emerging as the most polluted part of South Asia.