India’s air quality now rivals China’s as the world’s deadliest, according to a new study published on Tuesday amid warnings that efforts to curb pollution from coal won’t yield results anytime soon.
“India now approaches China in the number of deaths attributable to PM2.5,” said the report by the Health Effects Institute and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation
In India, that number has steadily climbed from an estimated 737,400 deaths a year in 1990 to 1.09 million in 2015.
Courtesy: CNN Money
India and neighboring Bangladesh have experienced the steepest increases in pollution since 2010 “and now have the highest PM2.5 concentrations” in the world, the report said.
Pollution in New Delhi, last year in November, reached crisis levels with crop burning, car exhaust, dust, and coal plants blamed for the record smog.
The government shuttered schools and temporarily closed a coal-fired power plant as a stop gap, but experts say the energy-hungry nation will need to do more if it’s to clean the air for India’s 1.25 billion people.
India’s notoriously poor air quality causes nearly 1.1 million premature deaths every year,
But where deaths linked to air pollution in China have steadied in recent years, the rate has soared in India where smog readings in major cities routinely eclipse safe exposure levels.
Pollution levels are worsening in India as it tries to industrialize, but “the idea that policy making should be led by the government is lacking,” Bhargava Krishna, manager for environmental health at the Public Health Foundation of India, a health policy research center in New Delhi, said in an interview.
However, the Indian government is in denial mode on linking premature deaths to air pollution.