1.7 million deaths in 2019 linked to air pollution
A staggering 18% of deaths in India in 2019, 1.7 million in numbers, were linked with air pollution, a study published in The Lancet Planetary Health revealed. National Capital Delhi, where the air pollution levels touch the hazardous category, suffered the highest per-capita economic loss last year. Moreover, a 1.4% loss of GDP, amounting to $36.8 billion, was associated with air pollution. Here's more.
Deaths due to outdoor pollution increased by over 100%
Reportedly, India State-Level Disease Burden Initiative published its findings in The Lancet Planetary Health. This paper traces the effect of air pollution on lives and the economic impact it has. It was concluded that between 1990 and 2019, there has been an increase of 115.3% in the death rate per 1,00,000 population due to outdoor pollution. The deaths due to indoor pollution decreased by 64.2%.
UP suffered huge economic losses due to air pollution
When the percentage of economic loss, with respect to GDP was considered, it was found Uttar Pradesh lost the most at 2.2%. It was followed by Bihar, which lost 2% of its GDP. The economic losses attributable to indoor air pollution were least in Goa at $7.6 million and the most in UP at $1,829.6 million. Delhi suffered the highest per-capita economic loss and Haryana took the second position.
Economic losses varied from Arunachal Pradesh to UP
"The economic loss due to lost output from premature deaths and morbidity attributable to ambient particulate matter pollution ranged from $9.5 million in the small Northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh to $3,188.4 million in the Northern state of Uttar Pradesh," the study added.
An investment to combat air pollution yielded benefits: Study
Further, the study explained that air pollution can reduce children's ability to benefit from education. "The cost savings resulting from the prevention of productivity losses attributable to air pollution would contribute to the formation of new human capital," the study added. In the US, every dollar spent in combating air pollution since 1970 led to an economic benefit of $30, said the paper.
Less developed states are suffering more, said expert
Prof. Lalit Dandona, the senior author of the study, said less developed states suffered more due to air pollution. "Besides a roughly estimated expenditure of 0.4% of the GDP on the treatment of air pollution-related diseases, the health and economic impact of air pollution is highest in the less developed states of India, an inequity that should be addressed," Dandona told Indian Express.
ICMR's Bhargava said government's schemes helped reduce indoor pollution
Commenting on the study, ICMR's Director-General Prof. Balram Bhargava said not all diseases linked to air pollution were associated with the lungs. However, he added that various schemes like Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana and the Unnat Chulha Abhiyan contributed to reducing indoor pollution. Meanwhile, Dandona said the high number of deaths due to pollution could affect India's dream of becoming a $5 trillion economy by 2024.