A new analysis based on the Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) developed by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC) has shown that an average citizen living in the Indo-Gangetic Plain region could lose about 7 years of life expectancy because the air quality in the area failed to meet the World Health Organization’s (WHO) guideline for fine particulate pollution.
Announcing the findings, researchers associated with the study said the huge impact on life expectancy was due to a 72 percent increase in pollution from 1998 to 2016 in the region. In 1998, the impact on people’s lives would have been half of what it is today, with residents losing a lower 3.7 years of life expectancy.
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“Air pollution is a challenge through much of India. However, the high levels of particulate pollution in the Indo-Gangetic Plain region, which includes Bihar, Chandigarh, Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, stand out,” researchers said. In 1998, citizens living outside of the region would have seen their lives cut short by 1.2 years relative to what it would have been if air quality met the WHO guideline. That number has grown to 2.6 years – also worsening but much more modest than what has happened in the Indo-Gangetic Plain, they said.
The findings were announced at a programme in New Delhi today where the full platform of the Index was made accessible in Hindi.
The researchers have also found that if India succeeded in meeting its goals under the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) and achieved sustained pollution reductions of about 25 percent, it could help extend the life expectancy of an average Indian by 1.3 years and those living in the Indo-Gangetic Plain by about 2 years.
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