[Urbanstudy] Indians could live longer if air quality improves: Study

Vinay Baindur yanivbin at gmail.com
Tue Sep 12 08:07:06 CDT 2017


Indians could live longer if air quality improves: Study

People in Delhi could live 6 years longer if the country met its national
air quality standards, and 9 years longer if it met WHO standards.   |
Photo Credit: V. Sudershan

If Delhi’s foul air is cleaned up and made to meet the World Health
Organisation (WHO) standards, city residents stand to gain nine years in
average in their life span, a study said.

The Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) developed by the Energy Policy Institute
at the University of Chicago (EPIC), when considered at the national level,
says Indians could live four years longer in average if its air quality
meets WHO standards.

The study takes air borne particulate matter pollution, PM 2.5, into
account and extrapolates it to see what impact any reduction in its volume
would have on the life span of people.

Accordingly, it says that if PM 2.5 quantity in Delhi’s air meets the WHO
annual standard of 10 micrograms per cubic metre (ug/m3), people can live
up to nine years longer and six years longer if it meets the national
standard of 40 ug/m3.

Products of vehicular and industrial combustion, PM 2.5 are air borne ultra
fine particulates, measuring less than 2.5 microns, which can cause
irreparable harm to humans by entering the respiratory system and
subsequently the bloodstream.

“The AQLI reveals that if India reduced its air pollution to comply with
the WHO’s air quality standard, its people could live about 4 years longer
on average, or a combined more than 4.7 billion life years.

“Some of the greatest gains would be seen in the country’s largest cities,
such as Delhi. There, people could live 6 years longer if the country met
its national standards, and 9 years longer if the country met WHO
standards,” the study says.

The AQLI arrives at the conclusions by translating the particulate
concentrations into their impact on lifespans, “unlike previous studies
that tend to rely on data tracking people’s exposure over a short time

“It suggests that particulates are the greatest current environmental risk
to human health, with the impact on life expectancy in many parts of the
world similar to the effects of every man, woman and child smoking
cigarettes for several decades,” Michael Greenstone, Director of the EPIC

Delhi has consistently ranked high among the list of most polluted cities
in the world. The city is gearing up to tackle pollution that reaches
perilous levels during the winter months.
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