Javadekar Says Indian Studies Don't Show Link Between Life Expectancy & Pollution; ICMR Data Proves Otherwise
If air pollution levels were lower than the minimal level that causes loss in health, the life expectancy in India on average would have increased by 1.7 years, going up by more than two years in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, said a study conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research.
A runner wearing a face mask for protection from air pollution takes part in the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon in New Delhi, India on October 21, 2018. (Representative Image: Reuters)
New Delhi: Almost exactly a year before Union Minister for Environment and Forest Prakash Javadekar told the Parliament that “no Indian study has shown that pollution shortens life”, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had said that air pollution was responsible for one in eight deaths in India in 2017, besides lowering the average life expectancy by 1.7 years.
“No Indian study has shown pollution shortens life. Let us not create fear psychosis among people,” Javadekar told the Parliament on Friday. He was responding to queries in the Lok Sabha about studies that life expectancy is decreasing due to pollution.
A study titled ‘The impact of air pollution on deaths, disease burden, and life expectancy across the states of India: the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017’ was the first comprehensive analysis of the impact of air pollution on deaths, disease burden and life expectancy in every state of India.
The study was conducted by the India State Level Disease Burden Initiative -- a joint initiative of the ICMR, the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). It was conducted in collaboration with the Union Health Ministry and published in the British medical journal, The Lancet. It received funding from the ICMR and the ministry as well as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
It said that in 2017, 1.24 million deaths –12.5% of the total deaths – were attributed to air pollution, including 0.67 million from outdoor air pollution and 0.48 million from household air pollution.
“Of these deaths attributable to air pollution, 51.4% were in people younger than 70 years. India contributed 18.1% of the global population but had 26.2% of the global air pollution DALYs in 2017,” it said. DALY or disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) acts as a measure of overall disease burden.
If air pollution levels were lower than the minimal level that causes loss in health, the life expectancy in India on average would have increased by 1.7 years, going up by more than two years in states like Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, the study said.
The study found that 76.8% of India is exposed to air pollution levels that are above the norms set by the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. North India, in particular, recorded very high levels of pollutants.
The levels of PM 2.5 were the highest in Delhi, followed by UP, Bihar and Haryana, with the average values for the pollutants soaring at three times above the acceptable levels. DALY rate due to household air pollution was the highest in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Assam.
Air pollution kills an estimated seven million people worldwide every year, as per the estimates of the World Health Organization (WHO), showing that nine out of 10 people breathe air containing high levels of pollutants.
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