Toxic air pollution to shorten children’s lives by 20 months, report says

Over 1.2 million early deaths in India due to air pollution Report

The South Asian region - Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan - led the world as the most polluted, with over 1.5 million air-pollution related deaths according to the report. Overall, long-term exposure to indoor and outdoor air pollution contributed to almost five million deaths from stroke, diabetes, heart attack, lung cancer and chronic lung disease in 2017 in the world.

"Air pollution exposures collectively reduce life expectancy by 20 months on average worldwide", University of Texas assistant professor Joshua Apte wrote in the report.

China and India together were responsible for half of the total global attributable deaths from air pollution in 2017, a new global study released on Wednesday has revealed.

The Indian government's initiative, known as Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY), provided liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) connections to 35 million poor families free of charge between 2016 and early 2018 and aims to provide 80 million connections by 2020.

The annual State of Global Air report, published Wednesday by the USA -based Health Effects Institute and the University of British Columbia, cites air pollution as the fifth leading cause of early death worldwide - responsible for more deaths than malaria, road accidents, malnutrition or alcohol.

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In 2017, air pollution was the fifth highest mortality risk factor globally and was associated with loss of 147 million years of healthy life, the report added. Life-expectancy estimates is a new feature in this year's report.

"That the life of children is being shortened so much came as really quite a shock", said Robert O'Keefe, the vice-president of the Health Effects Institute, which produced the report.

And while China had made progress in reducing air pollution, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India experienced the largest increases in air pollution levels since 2010, the report found.

The report said annual PM2.5 (particulate matter with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres, which can enter the lungs and the bloodstream) exposures were highest in South Asia in 2017.

The study showed impact of air pollution in the world and showed that a child born today will die 20 months sooner, on average, than would be expected without air pollution.

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Some of the risks for children from exposure to air pollution are potential damage to brain development, limited lung capacity and the onset of problems like asthma, he added.

The cause of deaths were attributed to illnesses including lung ailments caused by air pollution.

"In addition, the number of households cooking with solid fuels is declining in many parts of the world".

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.

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