Air pollution the root cause of 1.6 million yearly premature deaths in India

Toxic air takes a growing toll on lives

News - Biz@India

June 28, 2016

/ By / New Delhi



Biomass used for cooking purposes in many parts of India and two coal-fired power plants in Badarpur and Rajghat (districts in New Delhi, the Indian capital) are the major causes of emissions in Delhi.

Biomass used for cooking purposes in many parts of India and two coal-fired power plants in Badarpur and Rajghat (districts in New Delhi, the Indian capital) are the major causes of emissions in Delhi.

A recent International Energy Agency (IEA) report on energy and air pollution, ‘World energy outlook’ (WEO), estimated that air pollution causes 6.5 million premature deaths across the world in a year, with India alone being the contributor of 1.6 million premature deaths, almost a fourth of the total.

Though no country across the globe has been able to solve the problem of air pollution completely, the impacts are fast growing in Asia.

According to a recent International Energy Agency (IEA) report on energy and air pollution, ‘World energy outlook’ (WEO), air pollution is the fourth largest cause of premature deaths among humans, after high blood pressure, poor diet and smoking.

The International Energy Agency is an autonomous intergovernmental organisation established in 1974, dedicated to focus on energy security, economic development and environmental protection.

As per the estimates, approximately 6.5 million premature deaths per year across the world are a cause of air pollution with more than half of them being reported from India and China together. Nearly 1.6 million people in India die because of air pollution every year.

Biomass is still traditionally used for cooking purposes in many parts of India and is a major cause of air pollution. Along with this, two coal-fired power plants in Badarpur and Rajghat (districts in New Delhi, the Indian capital) are the main sources of PM 2.5 fine particules emissions in Delhi.

According to the report, energy production and use mostly from unregulated, poorly regulated and inefficient fuel combustion are the most common man-made sources of key air pollution.

The report also highlighted links between energy, air pollution and health and estimated that no country is immune to air pollution as 80 pc of world cities that monitor air pollution levels fail to meet the air quality standards set by World Health Organisation (WHO).

The green road?

The Indian government has taken some recent measures to curb pollution, particularly in the power sector, but the prevention measures are more often offset by strong growth in emissions from industry and transportation sector.

The number of deaths due to household pollution is more than the deaths due to outdoor air pollution, but according to the study, the trend will reverse in 2040, as more and more people would be able to access relatively cleaner cooking gas and electricity by then.

As per the report, global deaths will increase significantly touching 7.5 million by 2040, unless the energy sector responsible for the majority of air pollution takes greater action to curb emissions. However, around 7 pc increase in clean energy investment can save over 3 million lives by 2040.

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