India tops world in pollution deaths in 2015

India tops world in pollution deaths in 2015

Pollution killed 25 lakh Indians — the highest in the world — in 2015, of whom more than 18 lakh lives were snuffed out by foul air alone, a global panel of public health experts have said in their latest report.

Most of these deaths were caused by heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, triggered by pollution.

Air pollution apart, water pollution killed nearly 6.46 lakh Indians.

Other forms of pollution, including passive smoking and exposure to lead, resulted in the death of another 1.68 lakh people, according to the report published in the journal Lancet.

The figures are based on data obtained from more than 75 Indian sites, including 17 in Karnataka, spewing pollution.

Some of the key Bengaluru sites that figure in the global pollution observatory map are Bellandur lake, Kengeri tank (key pollutant: cadmium), Mavallipura garbage dump site, Yelahanka, Hebbal lake, Mangamanapalya road near Hosur Road, Agara lake, Arekere lake, Madiwala lake and Begur road (lead), Peenya industrial area and Vrishabavati river (chromium).

Other sites in Karnataka include Cauvery river, downstream of Nanjangud, Mysuru (lead), Kolar Gold Fields, Nuggihalli schist belt and Hassan (chromium).

While almost all (92%) pollution-related deaths occurred in low- and middle-income countries, the greatest impacts are seen in countries that are undergoing rapid development and industrialisation — with pollution responsible for up to one in four deaths in the most severely affected countries like India, Pakistan, China, Bangladesh, Madagascar and Kenya.

In 2015, the maximum number of deaths due to pollution occurred in India (25 lakh) and China (18 lakh).

India faces one of the world’s worst average ambient (outdoor) pollution in terms of releasing dust and soot in the air, with recent estimates indicating that 25-50% of ambient air pollution comes from the use of solid fuels in two-thirds of Indian households.

Profound threat

“Pollution is much more than an environmental challenge – it is a profound and pervasive threat that affects many aspects of human health and well-being. Pollution has been neglected in the global health agendas, and some control strategies have been deeply underfunded,” said Philip Landrigan, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, USA, one of the lead authors of the study.

DH News Service

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