Air pollution in delhi causes 12,000 deaths annually, Study reveals


New Delhi : The Alarming Impact of PM2.5 Pollution :
Air pollution in Delhi has reached crisis levels, resulting in nearly 12,000 deaths annually. This stark reality was highlighted in a recent study published in “The Lancet Planetary Health” journal. The study underscored that over 7 per cent of daily deaths in 10 major Indian cities are directly attributable to air pollution. This alarming figure is primarily due to PM2.5 concentrations, which consistently exceed the World Health Organization’s (WHO) safe exposure limit.

Cities Analyzed and the Extent of Pollution

The study meticulously analyzed data from Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, Pune, Shimla, and Varanasi. It revealed that PM2.5 levels surpassed the WHO’s safe limit of 15 micrograms per cubic meter on an astonishing 99.8 per cent of days. Among these cities, Delhi emerged as the most affected, with the highest number of daily and annual deaths due to PM2.5 air pollution.

Grim Statistics of Delhi’s Air Quality

Delhi’s air pollution crisis is particularly severe, with nearly 12,000 deaths recorded annually, accounting for 11.5 per cent of the city’s total deaths. The study highlighted that increased exposure to PM2.5 significantly raises the risk of mortality. A mere 10 micrograms per cubic meter increase in PM2.5 levels is associated with a 1.4 per cent increase in daily mortality. Alarmingly, when PM2.5 concentrations are restricted to levels below the Indian air quality standards, this risk doubles to 2.7 per cent.

Comparative Analysis of Affected Cities

The study conducted a comparative analysis of the impact of PM2.5 pollution on daily mortality across the ten cities. It was found that a 10 micrograms per cubic meter increase in PM2.5 levels resulted in a 0.31 per cent increase in daily mortality in Delhi, whereas Bengaluru experienced a 3.06 per cent increase. This stark difference highlights the varying impact of PM2.5 pollution across different urban environments.

Expert Opinions and Recommendations

Joel Schwartz, a co-author from Harvard University, emphasized the need for lowering and tightening air quality limits to save thousands of lives annually. He pointed out that effective pollution control methods are already being utilized in other parts of the world and urged for their urgent implementation in India. The study’s findings are based on an extensive analysis of nearly 3.6 million daily deaths across ten Indian cities from 2008 to 2019.

Health Risks Associated with PM2.5 Exposure

According to the WHO, almost every person on earth is exposed to air pollution above the recommended levels, posing serious health risks. Long-term exposure to PM2.5 particles can cause severe health issues, including stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and various respiratory diseases. This study marks the first multi-city time series analysis of short-term exposure to PM2.5 and daily mortality in India, shedding light on the severe consequences of air pollution on public health.

The Urgency of Implementing Pollution Control Measures

The findings of this study underscore the urgent need for implementing effective pollution control measures. The stark reality of nearly 12,000 annual deaths in Delhi alone due to air pollution is a clarion call for immediate action. The study’s co-authors, including researchers from Varanasi’s Banaras Hindu University and New Delhi’s Chronic Disease Control Centre, emphasize that India’s air quality standards need to be re-evaluated and stringent measures should be enforced to mitigate this public health crisis.

A Call to Action

The extensive data and detailed analysis presented in this study paint a grim picture of the impact of air pollution in India. The alarmingly high PM2.5 concentrations and their severe health implications necessitate immediate and decisive action. Policymakers, health officials, and environmental agencies must collaborate to implement and enforce robust pollution control strategies. The future health and well-being of millions of Indians depend on our ability to address this critical issue with urgency and resolve.


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