Air pollution is responsible for 10,000-30,000 deaths in Delhi annually and is the fifth largest cause of death in the country, states the ‘Body Burden 2015’ report released by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) on Tuesday. Outdoor air pollution kills 6,20,000 people and indoor air pollution kills 1.5 million people in India annually.
The report states that 53% of days in November were in the very poor air quality range and 47% were in the severe range, as per the National Air Quality Index.
“The way forward would be to reduce the source of air pollution. Currently, 60% of people in Delhi uses public transport, cycles or walks. It is important to revamp our transportation system and add to these numbers,” said Sunita Narain, director general of CSE.
The report says the use of solid fuels needs to be avoided in order to reduce indoor air pollution. As of 2010, 700 million Indians use solid fuels to light chullahs, which release smoke equivalent to 400 cigarettes every hour.
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are a major killer with 98,16,000 succumbing to a lifestyle disease in 2014. Non-communicable diseases account for 40% of all hospital stays and 35% of recorded out-patient visits.
The report says lack of clean drinking water facilities, climate change, degradation of forests, and use of fertilisers have taken a toll on the health of Indians.
In India, 37.7 million people are affected by water-borne diseases annually and around 1.5 million children succumb to diarrhoea alone. In fact, on an average, every child below the age of 6 has 1.71 episodes of diarrhoea in rural India and 1.09 episodes in urban India.
Climate change is another major problem leading to an increase in vector-borne diseases such as dengue and malaria. The report says the potential period of the spread of malaria has increased to 10-12 months, which is up from 4-6 months a year.