Updated: June 7, 2016 8:15:24 am
Air pollution in India can cause about half a million premature mortalities every year, and exposure to fine particulate matter in India reduces life expectancy by about 3.4 years. Delhi, meanwhile, tops the list in the number of life years lost — as many as 6.3 years — due to exposure to particulate matter 2.5.
The figures in Delhi — the highest among all states — are also double the national average of reduction in life expectancy which is 3.3 years.
Dr Sachin Ghude, IITM scientist and co-author of the study, Premature Mortality in India due to PM 2.5 and Ozone Exposure, said such deaths were double that of 300,000 deaths globally caused by human impact of global warming and climate change.
The study — published in Geophysical Research Letters — was done by Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado, USA and Atmospheric Chemistry Observations and Modeling Laboratory.
“Exposure to fine particulate matter in India reduces life expectancy by about 3.4 years, with Delhiites losing 6.3 years. Air pollution is cutting the lives of those living in polluted states of West Bengal and Bihar by 6.1 years and 5.7 years,” said the scientist.
Although, these results are in line with other global estimates (e.g. Global Burden Of Disease GBD, WHO,) there is no way to tell how many deaths can be attributed to air pollution, said Ghude.
“The methods used in this study rely on statistical algorithms to construct estimates about a population’s response to pollution exposure using previous concrete observations on pollution and public health. The problem is that most of these observational studies have taken place in regions with comparatively low pollution levels, such as Europe or the U.S. We don’t have any epidemiological studies in India that look at the long-term effects of air pollution on mortality. In this work, we have extrapolated human responses to high pollution levels using results from less polluted places. However, it is the only available option for this type of research until the studies are conducted in India,” he added.
The study uses ‘value of a statistical life’ approach, which is the monetary value of a change in a person’s likelihood of dying or amount of money a society would be willing to spend to save an individual citizen’s life.
“We found the cost of the estimated premature moralities came to about $640 billion in 2011 — about 10 times the country’s total expenditure on health in 2011,” said Ghude.
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