Air pollution is responsible for 7% of deaths in India’s major cities

Air pollution is responsible for 7% of deaths in India’s major cities
Photo: Arun Shankar

(File) Pollution clouds in New Delhi

arun shankar

More than 7% of deaths in India’s 10 largest cities were caused by air pollution, highlights a study published this Thursday (04), in which researchers call for measures to save lives.

“Our results, based on data from 2008 to 2019, suggest that around 7% of deaths can be attributed to daily exposure to PM2.5 particles”, cancer-causing microparticles, summarized Jeroen de Bont, one of the authors of the study, published in Lancet Planetary Health.

The Indian-led team analysed PM2.5 levels in the cities of Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, New Delhi, Hyderabad, Pune, Shimla and Varanasi.

The study shows that more than 33,000 annual deaths can be attributed to exposure to PM2.5 levels above the 15 micrograms per cubic meter recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). This number represents 7.2% of the deaths recorded in these cities in the mentioned period.

The worst situation was seen in the country’s capital, where 12 thousand deaths annually were related to air pollution, or 11.5% of the total.

Even in cities where pollution is not considered severe, such as Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai, high levels of deaths have been recorded, according to the researchers, who have called for tightening air quality standards.

The country’s current recommendation is 60 micrograms of PM2.5 per cubic meter, four times higher than WHO’s guidance. Lowering and enforcing the limit would “save thousands of lives per year,” said Joel Schwartz of Harvard University, one of the study’s authors.

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