Clean air adds 1.7 years to life in India

In Karnataka 1.4 years

In the study published in the Lancet Planetary Health on Thursday, experts reported that in Karnataka, each citizen would live 1.4 years more if the quality of air improved.

Having clean air would add more than one year to the life of every Indian citizen, according to the first national study on the estimation of death and poor health due to air pollution in each state.

With three-fourth of India breathing foul air and pollution level four times above the WHO limit, a team of 76 researchers calculated how life expectancy would increase in every state if the air pollution concentrations were less than the minimum level causing health loss.

In the study published in the Lancet Planetary Health on Thursday, they reported that in Karnataka, each citizen would live 1.4 years more if the quality of air improved.

On a national average, every Indian would live 1.7 years more if they get an opportunity to breath clean air.

The best outcome would be visible in Rajasthan where cleaning up of the air means adding 2.5 years to the life.

Other states where significant gains can happen include Uttar Pradesh (2.2 years), Haryana (2.1), Jammu and Kashmir (2), Uttarakhand, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh (all 1.9) and Punjab (1.8).

In south India, life expectancy would increase by a year in Kerala and Goa, by 1.1 year in Tamil Nadu, by 1.3 years in Telengana and by 1.4 years in Andhra Pradesh.

In 2017, as much as 76.8% of Indian population was exposed to PM 2.5 (particulate matter of 2.5 micron dimension) level higher than 40 micrograms per cubic metre. This is four times more that the limit of 10 micrograms set by the World Health Organisation.

“Another worrying fact is that 42.6% of the residents are exposed to mean PM-2.5 greater than 80 micrograms — eight times higher than the WHO limit and double the more realistic Indian National Ambient Air Quality Standards of 40 micrograms,” Lalit Dandona, a professor at the Public Health Foundation of India and one of the members of team, told DH.

“PM-2.5 is more dangerous because it stays longer in the body and gets into the blood stream,” said Tushar K Joshi, advisor, environmental health at the environment ministry. “These particles can enter alveoli and cross the blood brain barrier,” warned Balram Bhargava, secretary to the Department of Health Research and director general, Indian Council of Medical Research.

The highest PM2.5 exposure level was in Delhi, followed by the other north Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Haryana. In fact, the entire air pollution in Delhi (65.3 per 100,000) is due to outdoor air pollution as only 2% Delhi residents use solid fuel at home.

“Although air pollution is commonly thought to be associated with lung disease, a substantial 38% of the disease burden in India due to air pollution is from cardiovascular disease and diabetes,” the researchers reported.

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Clean air adds 1.7 years to life in India

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