Delhi ranked world’s most polluted city, residents face significant lifespan reduction due to pollution

A recent comprehensive study has unveiled disturbing revelations about Delhi’s air quality crisis, marking it the most polluted city globally. The study, released by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago, paints a dire picture for the residents of Delhi, indicating that their lifespans could be significantly reduced due to the persistently high pollution levels in the city.

Drastic Reduction in Lifespan: According to the study, Delhi’s residents could potentially lose a staggering 11.9 years of their lives if the current pollution levels continue to exceed the limits set by the World Health Organization (WHO). The study, titled Air Quality Life Index (AQLI), offers insights into the severe impact of pollution on public health.

Nationwide Implications: The implications of this study are not limited to Delhi alone. It was discovered that the entirety of India’s vast population, which amounts to approximately 1.3 billion people, resides in areas where the annual average particulate pollution level surpasses the WHO’s recommended limit of 5 μg/m3 (micrograms per cubic meter).

Nationwide Concerns: The AQLI study reveals an alarming statistic – a substantial 67.4 percent of India’s population lives in regions where pollution levels surpass the national air quality standard of 40 μg/m3. The dire consequences of fine particulate air pollution (PM2.5) are evident, shortening the average life expectancy of an Indian citizen by 5.3 years when compared to the hypothetical impact of adhering to the WHO’s 5 μg/m3 pollution limit.

Specific Impact on Delhi: 
The study’s focus on Delhi emphasizes the harsh reality its residents face. According to the national guideline, individuals living in Delhi could potentially experience a reduction of 8.5 years in their life expectancy due to the current pollution levels. Shockingly, even in the least polluted district in the surrounding region, namely Pathankot in Punjab, particulate pollution remains more than seven times the WHO limit, contributing to a potential reduction of 3.1 years in life expectancy if these conditions persist.

Northern Plains: A Disturbing Scenario

The northern plains of India, renowned as the most polluted region of the nation, houses a population of 521.2 million, equivalent to 38.9 percent of the country’s total populace. The study’s findings indicate that these residents might face an average reduction of eight years in life expectancy according to WHO standards and 4.5 years relative to the national standard, should the current pollution levels continue. The higher population density in this region, nearly three times that of the rest of India, contributes to elevated pollution levels from various sources, including vehicles, residences, and agriculture.

A Disturbing Trend: Tracing the trajectory of air quality, the study underscores a disconcerting fact: average annual particulate pollution in India has surged by 67.7 percent from 1998 to 2021. This detrimental trend has led to a reduction of 2.3 years in average life expectancy. Additionally, the study points out that India is accountable for a striking 59.1 percent of the global surge in pollution from 2013 to 2021.


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