Delhiites May Lose 12 Years Of Life to Air Pollution: What About Other Cities?

An average Indian, on the other hand, could see their live expectancy cut short by 5.3 years.

2 min read
Hindi Female

Residents of Delhi are likely to lose 11.9 years of their life – if the current air pollution levels persist, reveals the Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) report by Chicago University's Energy and Policy Institute. According to the think tank report, the National Capital Territory of Delhi is also the most polluted city in the world.  

The Big Point: An average Indian, on the other hand, could see their live expectancy cut short by 5.3 years, if current levels of pollution persist, the AQLI 2023 report indicates.

In the following cities, life expectancy is likely to be cut short by:

  • Gurugram - 11.2 years

  • Faridabad - 10.8 years

  • Lucknow - 9.7 years

  • Kanpur - 9.7 years

  • Patna - 8.7 years

  • Prayagraj - 8.8 years


Why Does it Matter? According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the annual average PM2.5 concentration should not be higher than 5 micrograms per cubic metre.

In Delhi, it is 126.5 micrograms per cubic meters – which is 25 times the WHO limit.

This makes it all the more important to discuss and combat issues around pollution. 

The Larger Context:  All of India’s 1.3 billion people live in areas where the annual average particulate pollution level exceeds the WHO guidelines.

At least 67.4 percent of the population live in areas that exceed the country’s own national air quality standard of 40 micrograms per cubic metre.

For context, people living in India's northern plains – Bihar, Chandigarh, Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal, could see their life expectancy reduce by:9

8 years in line with the WHO guidelines, and 4.5 years as per national standard – if current pollution levels persist.
"In contrast, cardiovascular diseases reduce the average Indian’s life expectancy by about 4.5 years, while child and maternal malnutrition reduce life expectancy by 1.8 years."
AQLI report

The study referred to four South Asian countries – India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan – as the world’s most polluted countries. An average Bangladeshi is estimated to lose 6.8 years, Nepali 4.6 years, and Pakistani 3.9 years, if current levels of pollution persist.

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