Study reveals air pollution in India caused over 1.15 lakh infant deaths in 2019
New Delhi, Oct 21: In a first, air pollution's global impact on newborns finds that outdoor and household particulate matter pollution contributed to the deaths of more than 1,16,000 infants' lives in India in their first month of life in 2019.
The study found progress in reducing household air pollution exposures but levels stagnant for outdoor PM2.5.
According to the State of Global Air 2020, more than half of these deaths were associated with outdoor PM2.5 and others were linked to use of solid fuels such as charcoal, wood, and animal dung for cooking.
It also said that long-term exposure to outdoor and household air pollution contributed to over 1.67 million annual deaths from stroke, heart attack, diabetes, lung cancer, chronic lung diseases, and neonatal diseases in India in 2019.
For the youngest infants, most deaths were related to complications from low birth weight and preterm birth. Overall, it can be seen that air pollution is now the largest risk factor for death among all health risks.
The HEI is an independent, nonprofit research institute funded jointly by the US Environmental Protection Agency, industry, foundations, and development banks.
The report highlights the ongoing challenge of high outdoor air pollution in South Asian countries.
India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal feature among the top 10 countries with the highest PM2.5 exposures in 2019; all of these countries experienced increases in outdoor PM2.5 levels between 2010 and 2019.
Use of solid fuels for cooking, however, presents a pattern of moderate success. Since 2010, more than 50 million fewer people have been exposed to household air pollution.
Though full links between air pollution and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic are not yet known, there is clear evidence linking air pollution and increased heart and lung disease creating a growing concern that exposures to high levels of air pollution, during winter months in South Asian countries and East Asia, could exacerbate the effects of COVID-19.