Tuesday, 23 April, 2019

South Asia / Children in South Asia hit by air pollution

Air pollution killed 1.2 million people in India in 2017 says study Representative image | Adnan Abidi Reuters
Sandra Phillips | 05 April, 2019, 21:28

MORE than 1.2 million people died in India because of air pollution in 2017, a global report has shown, as data also revealed that deadly air claimed the lives of 128,000 people in Pakistan and 123,000 in Bangladesh.

The life expectancy of children born today will be shortened by 20 months on average by breathing the toxic air that is widespread across the globe, with the greatest toll in south Asia, according to a major study.

Long-term exposure to outdoor and indoor air pollution is estimated to have contributed to almost 5 million deaths in 2017, of which China and India reported 1.2 million deaths each.

In South Asia, where air pollution levels are the highest, the life expectancy for children born in countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh falls by more than 30 months, according to the annual State of Global Air report, published by the Health Effects Institute, a USA -based nonprofit research group.

A recent Greenpeace study put seven Indian cities among the top 10 most polluted global cities in terms of PM2.5 levels.

Broadly, this disparity between less and more developed countries on this form of pollution is seen across the world, with developing countries suffering PM2.5 exposures that are four to five times those of more-developed countries. "They have kept on pursuing this, they have dispatched government officials to these places to enforce, and air pollution has begun to turn a corner in China", he said. Each of the two countries - India and China - registered over 1.2 million deaths in 2017 from air pollution - which includes ambient as well as household air pollution.

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A Supreme Court order in January a year ago had directed authorities to immediately curb air pollution and effectively implement national standards of vehicle emissions and ensure air quality standards in the spirit of the constitution but there has been no government action.

"These and future initiatives have the potential, if fully implemented as part of a sustained commitment to air quality, to result in significant health benefits in coming years", Robert O'Keefe, Vice-president of HEI, told Press Trust of India.

Its conclusions illuminate what "we're seeing more and more of each year" in terms of health impacts stemming from air pollution, said Alastair Harper, head of advocacy at Unicef UK, the British arm of the United Nations children's agency. In the developing world, reliance on solid fuels, such as biomass for cooking and heating, is the main source of indoor pollution.

Every year, more people die from air pollution-related illnesses in the world than road traffic injuries or malaria.

Regional patterns of deaths attributable to household air pollution reflect population size and proportion of each population using solid fuels, the report states. Pakistan was ranked third, and Bangladesh fifth in the State of Global Air 2019 report.

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