Air pollution is one of the leading cause of deaths, ahead of alcohol abuse and BP | fitness | Hindustan Times
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Air pollution is one of the leading cause of deaths, ahead of alcohol abuse and BP

Don’t believe us? These figures on air pollution will convince you. More than 95% of the world’s population is breathing unhealthy air, with India and China together contributing to over 50% of global deaths attributed to pollution, a new report found.

fitness Updated: Apr 18, 2018 15:35 IST
Meenakshi Iyer
Meenakshi Iyer
Hindustan Times
According to the report, India topped China for early deaths caused by pollution by 1.1 million in 2016.
According to the report, India topped China for early deaths caused by pollution by 1.1 million in 2016. (Shutterstock)

Think you’re breathing clean air? Now digest this: more than 95% of the world’s population is breathing unhealthy air, with India and China together contributing to over 50% of global deaths attributed to pollution, a new report found. According to the second edition of the annual State of Global Air Report, published on Tuesday by the Boston-based Health Effects Institute (HEI), long-term exposure to air pollution contributed to an estimated 6.1 million deaths across the globe in 2016.

Fine particle air pollution is the largest environmental risk factor worldwide, responsible for a substantially larger number of attributable deaths than other more well-known behavioural risk factors such as alcohol use, physical inactivity, or high sodium intake.

Air pollution is a complex mixture of gases and particles whose sources and composition vary spatially and temporally. While hundreds of different chemical compounds can be measured in air, governments typically measure only a small subset of gases and particles as indicators of the different types of air pollution and the different types of major sources contributing to the pollution.

India’s contribution

According to the report, India topped China for early deaths caused by pollution by 1.1 million in 2016. These figures are scary, to say the least. While China has been making efforts to cut down on air pollution, the situation in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh is worse as pollution levels continue to rise since 2010.

Air pollution was the fourth-highest cause of death among all health risks globally, coming in below high blood pressure, diet and smoking, according to the report.

“Air pollution takes a huge personal toll worldwide, making it difficult to breathe for those with respiratory disease, sending the young and old to hospital, missing school and work, and contributing to early death,” CNN quoted Bob O’Keefe, vice president of HEI, as saying in a statement on Tuesday.

“The trends we report show real progress in some parts of the world -- but serious challenges remain to eliminate this avoidable affliction,” he added. The report also took into account those exposed to the burning of solid fuels in their homes, typically used for cooking or heating their houses, resulting in indoor air pollution.

In 2016, a total of 2.5 billion people -- one in three of global citizens -- were exposed to air pollution from solid fuels such as wood or charcoal. Tuesday’s report is the latest in a string of studies investigating the effects of air pollution on global populations, CNN reported.

In April 2017, the World Health Organization said that environmental pollutants cost an estimated 1.7 million lives among children under the age of five. In 2015, nearly one in six deaths, an estimated nine million worldwide, was related to pollution in some form -- air, water, soil, chemical or occupational pollution, according to a study published in The Lancet.

(With inputs from IANS)

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