Air Pollution Linked to 66.7 Lakh Deaths a Year: Lancet Report

Over 17 percent of deaths in India are linked to air pollution, notes the report published in the Lancet.

2 min read
Hindi Female

Around 1 in 6 people die across the world every year, of pollution related causes, finds a recent report published in the journal Lancet Planetary Health.

The report uses data collected by the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study conducted before the pandemic.

It found that pollution leads to around 90 lakh deaths globally every year, and that the situation remained largely unchanged since the last time the such a survey was conducted in 2015.

Of this, air pollution alone made up around 66.7 lakh deaths.

According to another related report published in the same journal in 2020, 16.7 lakh deaths were linked to air pollution, making up 17.8 percent of the total deaths in the country that year.


Air Pollution in India

According to the new report, increase in deaths from the more modern forms of pollution like chemical pollution, ambient air pollution is more evident in South Asia, East Asia, and Southeast Asia, and responsible for the deaths here.

The 2020 report breaks down the burden of different types of pollutants in India.

Of the 16.7 Lakh air pollution-related deaths noted in India, most (9.8 lakh) were linked to ambient air pollution caused by PM 2.5 particulates.

The second-biggest cause of pollution related deaths was household air pollution that was linked to 6.1 lakh deaths.

Although deaths due to household air pollution decreased significantly, by 64·2 percent, between 1990 to 2019, the progress was offset by deaths from ambient particulate matter pollution that went up by 115·3%.

It must be noted that quantifying deaths related to air pollution is tricky given that death certificates usually attribute it to whatever the immediate cause of the death was, like heart attack, stroke, lung cancer etc.

‘Pollution Is Not Just a National Issue'

According to the study, although deaths related to air pollution due to extreme poverty has reduced marginally, ambient air pollution and toxic chemical pollution have gone up significantly since 2015.

Deaths from ambient air pollution and chemical pollution—both biproducts of industrialisation and urbanisation—have risen by 7 percent since 2015, and by over 66 percent since 2000 found the data.

Here's a breakdown of the burden of different types of pollution in 2019.

  • Ambient air pollution (PM 2.5) - 41.4 Lakh Deaths

  • Household air pollution - 23.1 Lakh Deaths

  • Modern Pollution (including chemical pollution) - 58.4 Lakh Deaths

In all three cases, the risk of death was higher in men than in women.

While the disease burden of chemical pollution cannot be quantified, the study highlights three particularly worrisome, and inadequately charted, consequences of chemical pollution.

  • Developmental neurotoxicity

  • Reproductive toxicity

  • Immunotoxicity

They went on to say, that air pollution has so far been viewed as a local issue to be dealt with regulatory policies at the national and regional level.

Now, however, it is clearer than ever that the crisis poses a global threat, and that "its drivers, its dispersion, and its effects on health transcend local boundaries and demand a global response."

The study authors went on to reiterate, "Urgent attention is needed to control pollution and prevent pollution-related disease, with an emphasis on air pollution and lead poisoning, and a stronger focus on hazardous chemical pollution."

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Read Latest News and Breaking News at The Quint, browse for more from fit

Speaking truth to power requires allies like you.
Become a Member
3 months
12 months
12 months
Check Member Benefits
Read More