Millions in Delhi to lose 11.9 years of life to pollution: Study

Yasmin Tinwala

Representative Image / Image – WikimediaCommons

Air pollution in Delhi is about to shorten the life expectancy of over 18 million people by 11.9 years on average, relative to the World Health Organization (WHO) guideline and 8.5 years relative to the national guideline if the current pollution levels persist. The findings were revealed in a recent North India-focused Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) report published by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago.

The situation is dire in not just Delhi but the entire northern plain region of India which includes the states of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, and Assam. The population in this region is 521.2 million people, accounting for 38.9 per cent of India’s population. The average particulate pollution level in this region is 17.3 times higher than the WHO guideline, as per the report.

“Practically all of the Northern Plains’ 521.2 million people, 38.9 per cent of India’s population, live in areas where the annual average particulate pollution level is 17.3 times higher than the WHO guideline,” the report said. It further mentioned that the least polluted city in the region, Pathankot in Punjab, recorded particulate pollution more than seven times the WHO guideline. The study said that if the levels persisted, it could mean that the life expectancy of people in that region could be slashed by 3.1 years.

The AQLI report said human activity played a key role in generating severe particulate pollution that residents of the northern plain region were facing. The likely contributory factor is said to be the population density in the region which is nearly three times that of the rest of the country. Pollution through vehicular, residential, and agricultural sources is higher in the region than in the rest of India, and a denser population also means that the impact of pollution through all these sources would affect more human lives.

Blurb: The finding was revealed in a report released by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago.


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