India’s air pollution levels have expanded geographically over time and increased so much in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh that an average person is now losing an additional 2.5 to 2.9 years of life expectancy, according to a new report.
India is the most polluted country in the world, with more than 480 million people or about 40% of its population living in the Indo-Gangetic plains in the north where pollution levels regularly exceed those found anywhere else in the world by an order of magnitude, stated the University of Chicago’s Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) report.
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In 2019, India’s average particulate matter concentration was 70.3 microgram per cubic metre (μg/m3), the highest in the world and seven times the World Health Organisation’s (WHO’s) guideline of 10 μg/m3, the report said.
It said that alarmingly India’s high levels of air pollution have expanded geographically over time.
“Compared to a couple of decades ago, particulate pollution is no longer a feature of the Indo-Gangetic plains alone. Pollution has increased so much in the states of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. For example, the average person in those states is now losing an additional 2.5 to 2.9 years of life expectancy, relative to early 2000,” the report said.
For Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan, the AQLI data reveals that the average person would live 5.6 years longer if pollution were reduced to meet the WHO guidelines, it said.