Air pollution kills over 35,000 Indians in 10 years: Government

07 Aug 2015


The government on Thursday said that more than 35,000 people had died due to acute respiratory infections (ARI) across India in close to 10 years.

This seems something of a volte face by the union environment ministry, which has in the past maintained that there was no ''conclusive evidence'' that links air pollution to respiratory diseases.

Giving details of air pollution-linked deaths, the environment ministry also informed parliament that more than 2.6 crore of such cases were reported every year during the period (See: High pollution cutting lifespan of Indians by 3.2 years: Study).

''Air pollution is known to be one of the aggravating factors for many respiratory ailments and cardiovascular diseases,'' environment and forests minister Prakash Javadekar stated, sharing the data provided by the health and family welfare ministry from 2006 to 2015.

The ministry also listed a number of measures being taken by it to minimize the impact of air pollution.

''Asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic bronchitis, etc are the diseases caused by exposure to increasing air pollution,'' the minister stated in a written response in the Rajya Sabha.

Earlier in May, the World Health Organization (WHO)'s report showed that deaths due to air pollution have increased fourfold across the globe over the past decade. with China and India being named as the far worst affected countries (Air pollution kills 7 mn worldwide annually: WHO).

A recent study published in Environmental Science and Technology journal had claimed that foul air was killing up to 80 people a day in Delhi alone.

The Centre for Science and Environment's (CSE) analysis of government data and the Global Burden of Disease report's data on India has also named air pollution as the fifth leading cause of death in India after high blood pressure, indoor air pollution, tobacco smoking and poor nutrition.

While the above government's data is a rare official admission that pollution could be causing deaths in India on a large scale, international studies have indicated that the number of deaths could far higher than reported (Long-term exposure to air pollution may increase risk of hospitalisation for lung, heart disease)

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