India is the World’s Second Most Polluted Country, But Which Asian Country Tops the List?

India is the world’s second most polluted country, the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC) said in its latest findings. Air quality in the capital city, Delhi, is among the deadliest in the country and the pollution reduced life expectancy of a person by almost 10 years.

The study reveals that the concentration of fine particles increased by 69 per cent on average across India over the past two decades. This has set alarm bells ringing as it will have a negative impact on life expectancy reducing it by 4.3 years, compared to 2.2 years in 1998. Concentrations in the states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab and the National Capital Territory of Delhi are substantially higher.

The Air Quality Life Index (AQLI), the study’s new air pollution index finds that air pollution reduces global life expectancy by nearly two years; this makes it the single greatest threat to human life. The AQLI has converted pollution into the most important metric that exists – life expectancy. And it further illustrates how air pollution policies can increase life expectancy when they the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. The world body’s guidelines have set recommended limits for health-harmful concentrations of key air pollutants for outdoors as well as indoors, which are based on the global synthesis of scientific evidence.

Asia has the highest loss of life to pollution, exceeding six years in many parts of India and China; while in the US, some residents lose up to a year of life from pollution. Nepal somehow manages to surpass India as the world’s most polluted country.

Meenakshi Munshi, World Bank Economist, Guest Faculty – Jawahar Lal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi

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