The failure to meet pollution level guidelines set by the World Health Organisation (WHO) could mean that those living in suburban Mumbai may see their life spans shortened by three-and-a-half years, while those in Mumbai City may lose three years and one month of their lives.
These warnings are derived from the data released by the Air Quality Life Index (AQLI), a tool developed by the Energy Policy Institute at The University of Chicago, on Tuesday.
If the residents are exposed to PM 2.5 levels that breach WHO guidelines, for people living of Pune, it is a loss of three years and four months, followed by Kolhapur (two years and four months), Nagpur (three and a half years) and Nashik (three years).
While the WHO guideline is 10 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3), the national standard for India is 40 µg/m3 for PM 2.5.
AQLI, which converts particulate air pollution to its impact on life expectancy, said such pollution in India has risen a sharp 42 per cent over the last two decades, and was the greatest risk to human health before Covid-19 struck. The research team had conducted an air quality analysis of various cities from 1998 till 2018. The findings were combined with localised and global particulate measurements.
Currently, 84 per cent of the population lives in areas where pollution levels exceed even India-set air quality standards, the report said.
The AQLI measured potential gains in life expectancy by lowering PM 2.5 concentrations to meet either the WHO guidelines for particulate matter concentrations or the national standards. The average PM 2.5 levels in Mumbai suburbs in 2018 was 45.7 µg/m3.
In 2019, the National Clean Air Programme was launched with a target of 20 to 30 per cent reduction in PM 2.5 (fine, respirable pollution particles) and PM 10 (coarse pollution particles) concentration in 102 non-attainment cities (cities that did not meet the annual PM 10 national standard from 2011 to 2015) by 2024.
A nationwide reduction of 25 per cent would increase India’s national life expectancy by one year and six months, and by three years and one month for residents of Delhi, the report stated.
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