New Delhi: Globally, air pollution is a silent killer but India seems to be worse off.
The latest edition of the Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago states that air pollution is reducing the life expectancy of Indians by as much as five years and is tagged as the highest health burden in the world. The study also lists out that the national capital – Delhi is the world’s most polluted city with air pollution shortening lives by almost 10 years.
The study also highlights that India is the second-most polluted country after Bangladesh. Here are the other things that the study points:
– 63 per cent of India’s population lives in places where air pollution levels “exceed the country’s own national air quality standard of 40 µg/m3 (micrograms per cubic metre)”
– It also states that all of India’s 1.3 billion people live in areas, where the annual average particulate pollution level exceeds the World Health Organization (WHO) limit
– The report stated, air pollution is more lethal than smoking which reduces life expectancy by 1.5 years and child and maternal malnutrition’s 1.8 years
– The study also mentions that the Indo-Gangetic Plain is the most polluted region in the world
– Over half a billion people from Punjab to West Bengal are on track to lose 7.6 years of life expectancy on average, if current pollution levels persist, according to the report
– Talking about the national capital – Delhi’s PM 2.5 levels measured 107.6, over ten times the WHO’s safe limit of just 5
– The study also mentions that about 44 per cent of the world’s increase in pollution has come from India since 2013. And since 1998, average annual particulate pollution has increased by 61.4%, leading to a further reduction in average life expectancy of 2.1 years
The report’s authors are calling it the greatest global health threat with risks beginning right from the foetus stage. The report highlights that despite the lockdown, air pollution levels in India continued to rise in 2020, shortening the average Indian life expectancy by five years, compared to the global average of 2.2 years.
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.