Air Pollution Shortens Lives by About a Decade in North India
(Bloomberg) -- The world’s worst air pollution could shorten the lives of 480 million people -- more than the entire U.S. population -- by as much as 8 1/2 years across northern India, according to a study by the University of Chicago.
The entire South Asian nation of 1.3 billion is currently breathing air that exceeds the World Health Organization’s guidelines on annual average particulate pollution levels, according to the university’s annual air quality life index. In China, over 99% people live in areas where the annual average particulate pollution level exceeds the guideline.
The worst in India is the capital region of Delhi, where residents could live about 10 years longer if pollution levels met the WHO guidelines and seven years if it met India’s own national standard, the report said. China’s capital Beijing cut pollution by 35.6% from 2013 to 2019, gaining over two years in life expectancy if the reduction is sustained, it said.
While India’s National Clean Air Program, announced in 2019, seeks to cut particulate pollution by as much as 30% by 2024 from 2017, the problem has expanded geographically beyond its northern Gangetic plains. In western Maharashtra state and the central province of Madhya Pradesh, life expectancy has dropped by 2 1/2 to almost three years, relative to the early 2000s, it said.
Residents of Allahabad and Lucknow cities in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, where the annual average concentration of particulate matter was 12 times the WHO average, may lose as much as 11 years of life expectancy, the report said.
India is closely followed by neighbors Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan. In Bangladesh, residents could live a little over five years and citizens of capital Dhaka almost eight years more if pollution levels met WHO guidelines. The average life expectancy in Nepal and Pakistan could improve by five and about four years, respectively.
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