India records 24 lakh deaths due to pollution in 2019, highest globally: Study


New Delhi: Pollution led to 90 lakh deaths globally in 2019 in which India contributed around a quarter of the toll, according to a study published on Wednesday in The Lancet Planetary Health.

At 24 lakhs, the deaths in India are the highest pollution related fatality recorded in any country that year, followed by China which reported 21 lakh such deaths in the same year, the study showed.

The global pollution-related toll evaluated in the research is said to be equivalent to one in six deaths due to all causes reported in 2019.

The Lancet said air pollution accounted for 16.7 lakh deaths in India, which is by far, the highest recorded by any country.

Further, more than 5 lakh lives were lost in the country due to water pollution, followed by occupational pollution (more than one lakh) and lead exposure (over 2 lakh).

The Lancet’s study is an update of a 2015 estimate on premature deaths caused by pollution,

However, the report states that although the number of deaths from pollution sources associated with extreme poverty (such as indoor air pollution and water pollution) have decreased, these reductions are offset by increased deaths attributable to industrial pollution (such as ambient air pollution and chemical pollution).

Globally, of the 90 lakh pollution-attributable deaths in 2019, air pollution (both household and ambient) remains responsible for the 65 lakh deaths, according to the study.

Meanwhile, the water pollution was responsible for 13.6 lakh premature deaths. Lead toxicity contributed to 9 lakh premature deaths, followed by toxic occupational hazards at 8.7 lakh, the study showed.

The report also evaluated the economic losses countries across the world had to bear due to the pollution.

In India, the economic losses caused by modern forms of pollution—ambient, chemical and lead pollution—reduced substantially to 1 per cent of GDP in 2019 compared to 3.2 per cent in 2000. However, the estimate is “conservative” and able to higely impacting the country’s economy, the Lancet said.

The report mentions efforts made by India to control air pollution. It also noted the ambitious Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, a scheme launched in 2016 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to help poor rural women shift to cooking gas, but gaps remain.

“India has developed instruments and regulatory powers to mitigate pollution sources but there is no centralised system to drive pollution control efforts and achieve substantial improvements,” the study said adding that in 93 per cent of the country, the amount of pollution remains well above the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines.


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