Indians on average lose 5.2 years of their life due to increased air pollution, and Delhi and Kolkata stand to gain the most if air pollution, particularly concentration of PM 2.5, meets WHO standards, according to the annual Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) brought out by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC).
While Delhiites stand to gain 9.4 years if PM 2.5 concentration drops to 10 micrograms per cubic metre — the WHO standard —Kolkata residents would gain almost nine years, the report stated.
If the country meets its own standard of 40 micrograms per cubic metre of PM 2.5 concentration, the overall gain will be 2.3 years, it said.
The report found Lucknow has the highest level of pollution in the country, at 11 times more particulate concentration than is deemed acceptable by WHO. “Residents of Lucknow stand to lose 10.3 years of life expectancy if pollution persists,” it stated.
“India’s 1.4 billion people live in areas where annual average particulate pollution level exceeds the WHO guideline,” the report noted. “Eighty-four percent (people) live in areas where it exceeds India’s own air quality standard…”
The report also said that 248 million people in north India are on track to lose more than eight years of life expectancy if the pollution levels persist.
Four countries accounting for nearly a quarter of the world’s population — Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan — are also among the most polluted, it reported.