PM2.5 pollution killed 54,000 people in Delhi last year: Study
Air pollution caused by hazardous PM2.5 fine particulate matter led to the death of 54,000 people in Delhi last year where pollution levels remained almost six times above the prescribed WHO limits, according to a new study. According to a Greenpeace Southeast Asia analysis of IQAir data, 1800 deaths per million were estimated due to PM2.5 air pollution in Delhi.
4.2 million premature deaths recorded globally in 2015
"PM2.5 refers to fine particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter. Exposure to PM2.5 is considered the most important environmental risk factor for deaths globally, and was attributed to 4.2 million premature deaths in 2015," the study said. The study also noted that the damage is equally worrying in other Indian cities.
Figures in others parts of the country equally worrisome
"An estimated 25,000 avoidable deaths in Mumbai in 2020 have been attributed to air pollution. Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Lucknow estimated an approximate 12,000, 11,000, 11,000, and 6,700 avoidable deaths respectively due to polluted air," the study said.
Noting that Delhi's air pollutant levels remained almost six times above the prescribed WHO limits of 10 g/m3 annual mean, the study said the estimated air pollution-related economic losses were $8.1 billion, which amounts to 13 percent of Delhi's annual GDP. "Despite a temporary reprieve in air quality owing to the lockdown, the latest figures underscore the need to act immediately," the study said.
160,000 deaths recorded in the world's five most populous cities
"The need of the hour is to rapidly scale up renewable energy, end fossil fuel emissions, and boost sustainable and accessible transport systems," the study said. "Globally, approximate 160,000 deaths have been attributed to PM2.5 air pollution in the five most populous cities of Delhi (30 million), Mexico City (22 million), Sao Paulo (22 million), Shanghai (26 million), and Tokyo (37 million)," it said.
Cities should promote low cost and carbon-neutral transport options
"We need to ensure our growing demand is fueled by sustainable and cleaner sources of energy," Avinash Chanchal, Climate Campaigner, Greenpeace India said. "Cities should promote low cost, active and carbon-neutral transport options that prioritize walking, cycling, public transport, and increased use of clean energy. This will not only improve public health but it will also strengthen the economy and public money," he added.
Breathing should not be deadly: IQAir CEO
Commenting on the revelations made by cost estimator, CEO of IQAir, Frank Hammes says, "Breathing should not be deadly. The fact that poor air quality claimed an estimated 160,000 lives in the five largest cities alone should give us pause." "Governments, corporations, and individuals must do more to eliminate the sources of air pollution and make our cities better places to live," he said.