14,800 people died prematurely in Delhi due to fine particulate matter, says new study

Exposure to fine particular matter or PM 2.5 resulted in the premature deaths of 14,800 people in Delhi in 2016, according to a new study on pollution-related mortality in 13 Asian megacities in India, China, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

The study, conducted by researchers from Thailand, Singapore and India’s IIT Bombay, and revealed that Beijing and Shanghai had the highest number of premature deaths in the world in 2016, numbering 18,200 and 17,600 respectively. Delhi ranked third, and was followed by Mumbai, which had 10,500 premature deaths related to air pollution.

The other Indian cities featured in the study included Kolkata with 7,300 deaths, and Bengaluru and Chennai both of which had 4,800 premature deaths. The total mortality in Dhaka and Karachi was 9,100 and 7,700 respectively.

Earlier in 2018, 14 Indian cities, including Delhi, Varanasi, Kanpur, Patna, Agra, Jaipur, Muzaffarpur and Jodhpur, had figured in a list of the 20 most polluted cities in the world by the World Health Organisation,

The study also calls for more stringent policies, and highlights the “need for urgency in setting up decisive air quality targets” by authorities and joint regional efforts to control air pollution. “Though China has taken initial steps with pollution control targets and strategy, there is an urgent need for government policy in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan,” it added.

The results aren’t surprising. PM 2.5, a category of pollutants that are less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter, can penetrate deep into the lungs, and has been linked to cardiovascular diseases, lung diseases, cancer, and most recently, type 2 diabetes. In a 2017 study published in the medical journal The Lancet, 1.81 premature deaths in India were linked to air pollution, surpassing China (1.58 million) as the highest in the world.

In 2016, a study by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology revealed that on an average, Indians lost 3.4 years of their life due to air pollution. Delhi was the worst hit among all the states, with air pollution shortening the life expectancy of its residents by 6.3 years, followed by West Bengal (6.1 years) and Bihar (5.7 years).

Source: Economic Times