Air pollution causes 7% of deaths in big Indian cities: Study, ET HealthWorld

Air pollution causes 7% of deaths in big Indian cities: Study, ET HealthWorld


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Paris: More than seven percent of all deaths in India's 10 largest cities are caused by air pollution, a major study said on Thursday, leading researchers to call for action to save thousands of lives each year.

Smog-filled Indian cities, including the capital Delhi, suffer from some of the world's worst air pollution, choking residents' lungs and posing health risks that are still being revealed by researchers.

For the new study, an Indian-led team studied levels of cancer-causing fine particles known as PM 2.5 pollutants in the cities of Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, Pune, Shimla and Varanasi.

The study said more than 33,000 deaths per year from 2008 to 2019 may have been caused by exposure to PM 2.5 that exceeds the World Health Organisation's recommendation of 15 micrograms per cubic metre.

This represents 7.2 per cent of the deaths recorded in those cities during that period, according to the study published in The Lancet Planetary Health journal.

India's capital, Delhi, is the most polluted, with 12,000 deaths a year caused by air pollution – 11.5 per cent of all deaths.

But the researchers stressed that even cities where air pollution is not considered so bad – such as Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai – have high mortality rates.

He called for tightening India's air quality standards.

The country's current recommendation is 60 micrograms of PM2.5 per cubic metre, four times higher than the World Health Organization's guidelines.

Study co-author Joel Schwartz of Harvard University said lowering and enforcing the limit “would save thousands of lives each year.”

“Methods to control pollution exist and are being used elsewhere. They need to be urgently implemented in India too,” he said in a statement.

The World Health Organization says nearly everyone on Earth breathes in more air pollution than the recommended amount, which can lead to stroke, heart disease, lung cancer and other respiratory illnesses.

  • Published on July 4, 2024 at 10:21 AM IST

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