Three out of every ten deaths in India are a result of living in a polluted environment, according to new estimates from the World Health Organisation (WHO). The agency estimated that 2.9 lakh Indians died of infectious diseases, non-communicable diseases and injuries that can be attributed to environmental pollution in 2012.
India, with 30% of its deaths caused by environmental factors, fared only marginally better than Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) where 31% deaths were related to environment conditions. In contrast, only 10% of deaths in developed countries like Sweden and New Zealand were linked to environmental pollution
The report looked at pollution of air, water, soil and exposure to second-hand smoke because of tobacco. It also studied the effects of noise pollution and electromagnetic fields on deaths of healthy individuals.
Experts said that considering India’s population, it will record the most number of deaths as a result of environmental degradation compared to other countries in South-East Asia region. In the region, after India, Indonesia has the second highest burden of deaths attributed to environmental pollution. Doctors in Mumbai said that more studies are needed to understand the connection between environmental pollution and deaths. “Any two areas in Mumbai are not identical when it comes to exposure to environmental pollutants. We need to compare Colaba and Chembur to understand the way pollution affects people with existing medical conditions such as diabetes and cardiac diseases,” said Dr Rohini Chowghule, Indian Institute of Environmental Medicine.