Neighbours India and China are accountable for 1.2 million deaths each because of air pollution, says the State of Global Air report 2019 by the Health Effects Institute (HEI) and the Institute for Health Metrics. It highlighted that air pollution collectively reduced life expectancy by one year and eight months on average, worldwide. And it only rivals smoking.
The reports brought to the fore ten countries with the highest mortality burden in 2017, China (1.2 million), India (1.2 million), Pakistan (128,000), Indonesia (124,000), Bangladesh (123,000), Nigeria (114,000), the United States (108,000), Russia (99,000), Brazil (66,000) and the Philippines (64,000).
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In 2017, the report says air pollution was the fifth highest mortality risk factor globally and was associated with about 4.9 million deaths and 147 million years of healthy life lost.
Air pollution is responsible for more deaths across the world than other known risk factors such as alcohol use and physical inactivity. Breathing polluted air has long been recognized as increasing a person’s chances of developing heart disease, chronic respiratory diseases, lung infections and cancer.
A recent analysis by HEI found that major particulate matter sources in India include household burning of solid fuels; dust from construction, roads and other activities; industrial and power plant burning of coal; brick production; transportation; and diesel-powered equipment. On the other hand, China’s air pollution sources are industrial and power plant burning of coal and other fuels; transportation; household burning of biomass; open burning of agricultural fields; and household burning of coal for cooking and heating.
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In 2017, 846 million people in India and 452 million people in China were exposed to household air pollution.
“Many efforts are underway to shift households to cleaner energy sources. This shift would improve both indoor and outdoor air quality because burning of solid fuels in and around home also contributes to ambient air pollution,” says the report.