Disease Burden due to Air pollution

Key Findings

  • According to the report every 1 in 8 deaths in India occur due to air pollution.
  • About 1.24 million deaths in India in 2017 occurred due to air pollution.
  • This makes India is the leader in deaths and disease burden due to air pollution with 26% of the global deaths and disease burden due to air pollution.


Disease Burden due to Air pollution

  • While India had 18% of the global population, it had 26% of global DALYs attributable to air pollution in 2017.
  • 8% of the total disease burden in India and 11% of premature deaths are attributed to air pollution.
  • An estimated 1.24 million deaths in India in 2017 occurred due to air pollution.
  • Out of 1.24 million, 0.67 million deaths occurred due to ambient particulate matter pollution and 0.48 million deaths due to household air pollution.
  • About 38% of the disease burden due to air pollution in India is from cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
  • Air pollution in India is the leading cause for disease burden from ischaemic heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and lung cancer, which are commonly associated with smoking.


Sources of Air pollution

Ambient Air pollution

  • Sources are both anthropogenic and natural. In urban settings, the main sources are
    • Fossil fuel combustion for energy production
    • Transport
    • Residential cooking
    • Heating and waste incineration
  • In rural communities
    • Household burning of kerosene
    • Biomass and coal for cooking, heating and lighting
    • Agricultural waste incineration
    • Agro-forestry activities
  • Pollutants include
    • Carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NOx), lead, arsenic, mercury, sulfur dioxide (SO2), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and particulate matter (PM).


Ambient particulate matter pollution in India

  • India has one of the highest annual average ambient particulate matter PM 2.5 exposure levels in the world.
  • Further no state in India had an ambient particulate matter PM2.5 levels less than the WHO recommended level of 10 μg/m3,
  • 77% of India’s population was exposed to mean PM 2.5 more than 40 μg/m3, which is the recommended limit set by the National Ambient Air Quality Standards of India.
  • According to the report the highest PM 2.5 exposure level was in Delhi, followed by the other north Indian States of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Haryana.


Household pollution

  • In 2016, household air pollution from solid fuel and kerosene use resulted in an estimated 3.8 million premature deaths.
  • Out of this 4lakh were among children under the age of 5.
  • Household air pollution is also an important source of ambient air pollution contributing 12% of global PM2.5 to ambient air.


Household air pollution in India

  • 56% of India’s population was still exposed to household air pollution from solid fuels in 2017.
  • The low SDI (socio-economic development index) states in north India had some of the highest levels of both ambient particulate matter and household air pollution, especially Bihar, UttarPradesh, Rajasthan, and Jharkhand


Life expectancy

  • According to the report life expectancy in India would have been increased by 1.7 years if the pollution levels had been lower than the minimum levels.


India’s pledge in Paris Agreement

  • About two-thirds of the electricity in India is produced from fossil fuels, mainly coal.
  • However India has pledged in the Paris Climate Agreement to generate 40% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.
  • India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions under Paris Agreement targets to reduce particulate matter emission intensity by 33–35% by 2030.


Steps to reduce Particulate Matter pollution

  • Reduction in particulate matter emissions by coal power plants
  • Setting emission standards for the brick manufacturing industry
  • Facilitating management of agricultural residues to reduce stubble burning
  • Stricter vehicle emissions regulation
  • Upgrading of vehicles to more fuel-efficient standards like BS VI
  • Enhancing availability of public transport
  • State-specific policies such as use of compressed natural gas by vehicles in Delhi.
  • Mandatory use of fly ash in the construction industry within 100 km from coal or lignite thermal plants in Maharashtra to control particulate matter emissions.
  • Clean Air for Delhi Campaign launched in early 2018, led to the launch of the National Clean Air Programme to sensitise the public and enhance coordination between the implementing agencies.
  • Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana can substantially reduce solid fuel use and thus reducing household air pollution.


Section : Environment & Ecology