LIFE

Air pollution claimed over 1.2M lives in India in 2017: study

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According to a study by the U.S.-based Health Effects Institute (HEI), more than 1.2 million people died from air pollution related diseases in India in 2017.

Air pollution in India contributed to over 1.2 million deaths in 2017, a new study has found.

The study "State of Global Air 2019" released by the U.S.-based Health Effects Institute (HEI) produces latest information on air quality and health for countries around the globe.

"In India, air pollution is the 3rd highest cause of death among all health risks, ranking just above smoking; each year, more people globally die from air pollution related disease than from road traffic injuries or malaria," local daily The Hindu reported, citing the report.

India and China together were responsible for "over half of the total global attributable deaths, with each country facing over 1.2 million deaths from all air pollution in 2017," according to the daily.

Commenting on the report, Robert O'Keefe, vice president of Health Effects Institute, noted the Indian government has taken major steps -- including clean vehicle standards and the new National Clean Air Program -- to address pollution sources.

"These and future initiatives have the potential, if fully implemented as part of a sustained commitment to air quality, to result in significant health benefits in coming years," he was quoting as saying by The Hindu.

"On an average, the life of a South Asian child born today will be shortened by 2 years and 6 months growing up in current high levels of air pollution, while the global life expectancy loss is 20 months," the daily reported citing the study.

The problem of air pollution found a mention in the election manifesto of India's main opposition Congress party on Tuesday.

"Congress recognizes that air pollution is a national public health emergency. We will significantly strengthen the National Clean Air Programme in order to urgently tackle the problem of pollution," the party said in the manifesto.

Environment experts say more efforts are needed to curb the pollution.

"We have evidence coming every day that air pollution is getting serious and also deaths are taking place. So efforts are required to reduce the emissions of air pollution […] efforts are needed on war footing," Prof. Manju Mohan, atmospheric scientist at the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, told Anadolu Agency.

Ravindra Khaiwal, a faculty member of Environment Health at the northern Chandigarh-based Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, said: "Air pollution is becoming a major health risk leading to increased mortality."

"Air pollution has become major killer and hence government of India has launched national clean air program to reduce 20-30 percent PM2.5 emissions by 2024," Khaiwal, said.

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