India tops the world in the number of premature deaths from air pollution linked to ozone according to a report released yesterday. Over half of the deaths across the world caused by air pollution were in India and China where 2.2 million people died in 2015.
"The analysis found that China and India together were responsible for over half of the total global attributable deaths. The study also finds that increasing exposure and a growing and aging population have meant that India now rivals China for among the highest air pollution health burdens in the world, with both countries facing some 1.1 million early deaths from air pollution in 2015," the report published by the Health Effects Institute has said.
The report from the US-based Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) and the Health Effects Institute (HEI) said India and China each accounted for about 1.1 million of the 4.2 million deaths worldwide from tiny inhalable particles known as PM2.5 in 2015.
Environmental analysts said the report's findings on ozone were "scary" and highlighted an air pollutant not given the attention it deserves in India.
Ozone can aggravate respiratory illnesses, especially chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The rate of increase in ozone deaths in India is scary." said Anumita Roy Chowdhury, executive director of the New Delhi-based non-government organisation Centre for Science and Environment.
"We've seen far more stringent action in China than in India. Large cities such as Beijing and Shanghai have taken steps, such as investing big in public transport, to reduce air pollution," she added.
China alone burns 47 per cent of the world's coal. In winter, the coal-fired plants are the biggest contributor to the choking smog in northern part of the country.
Beijing and around two dozen cities were under heavy blanket of smog at the end December 2016.
New Delhi is no less, with dust and diesel-driven cars adding to the pollution woe. Crop burning in neighbouring state is also source of pollution.
"We are seeing increasing air pollution problems worldwide, and this new report details why that air pollution is a major contributor to early death," said Dan Greenbaum, President of the Health Effects Institute (HEI1), in a statement.
India's New Delhi and China's Beijing are the world's most polluted cities. Air pollution contributed to 4.2 million premature deaths worldwide in 2015, making air pollution the fifth highest cause of death among all health risks, including smoking, diet, and high blood pressure.