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By 2025, Delhi will record world’s highest premature deaths due to air pollution

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Premature deaths due to pollution in India

Air pollution from various sources is worsening day by day, and poverty stricken developing nations are hit most by the adverse effects of it. India is already the host to world’s most polluted city – the capital city Delhi.

Amidst such chaos, a study publish in Journal Nature shows three Indian cities topping the list of premature deaths worldwide due to air pollution. The study reveals that domestic fires are responsible for majority of premature deaths due to air pollution – not vehicular or industrial emissions – surprising?

In 2025, exactly after 10 years from now, Delhi will top the list of megacities with the world’s largest number of premature deaths due to air pollution. Nearly 32,000 people will die due to inhaling harmful particles like PM2.5 and O3 polluted air, and that number will rise to 52,000 in 2050.

The years between 2025 and 2050 will be the worst in terms of premature deaths due to air pollution.

By 2050, India city Kolkata will record 54, 8000 deaths due to air pollution, and Mumbai will follow with 33,100 deaths during the same year.

Along with vehicular pollution, many other sources of air pollution will be responsible for these deaths.

In an interview to Times of India, Johannes Lelieveld, director at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, said

“Our study indicates that residential energy use is the leading source category, practiced by many people both in the urban and rural environment in India. It is an inefficient form of biofuel combustion that causes a lot of smoke and is the foremost source of premature mortality by both indoor and outdoor air pollution in Asia.”

domestic fires in india kills

Further, he added,

Also other forms of energy use with low quality fuels should receive attention. One option is to provide improved quality cook stoves, which will help reduce indoor and outdoor air pollution. Our study shows that the highest growth rates of outdoor air pollution worldwide are expected in India, It will be important to implement policies to prevent that such a scenario becomes a reality.”

The study by the team Lelieveld focused on particulate matter with a diameter of less than 2.5 Micrometers and ozone.

These fine particles cause cardiovascular diseases and lung damage. On the other hand, ozone is responsible for more lung diseases like chronic cough and shortness of breath. Due to their small size, these particles can penetrate deep into lungs, even into blood vessels.

The study advises India and China to check their domestic small fires, which are responsible for much of the smog. It appears to be a trivial source, but in a country with second largest population, it matters a lot. A third of premature deaths worldwide are the result of domestic small fires with inefficient form of combustion.

Other Asian countries are doing better. In 2010, Asia recroded 75% of the premature death due to air pollution. China tops the list with 1.4 million people per year followed by India at 650,000 deaths/year. Third largest number of deaths was recorded in Pakistan at 1.10 lakh. Meanwhile, Bangladesh recorded 91923 deaths, Nigeria 89022 and Russia 6712.

Same year, U.S. and UK recorded 54905 and 15488 deaths respectively. With all these numbers, the annual count of worldwide deaths reaches 3.3 million, which will double by 2050 if emissions continue to rise at current rate.

There is another challenge for India; its make in India campaign. More industry means more energy consumption to manufacture. Presently, India is dependent on coal power. Though, India aims to achieve 160 GW renewable energy capacity by 2022, it’s really hard to say how much of it will be accomplished.

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