Large Population Breathing Unsafe Air, Reducing Life Expectancy By 2 Years: Study


The world has no doubt been battling a deadly pandemic for the last two years and many lives have been lost to it. However, there are other degrading effects on the planet, and they are just equally deadly for us albeit at a slower rate.

Man-made crises like global warming and air pollution are having an extremely detrimental effect on our planet as well as our lives. A recent study has revealed that air pollution is, in fact, reducing the life expectancy of people. The study also reveals that a large population in the world is actually breathing air that is unsafe.

The Energy Policy Institute (EPIC) of the University of Chicago has recently released the Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) report and it’s not pleasant news.

According to the report, the life expectancy of people around the world has decreased by more than 2 years due to air pollution, and despite the economy slowing down globally in recent times due to the pandemic. This effect on life expectancy is comparable to smoking, more than three times as bad as drinking too much alcohol or using unclean water, six times as bad as HIV/AIDS, and 89 times as bad as war and terrorism.

You will be shocked to know that pollution has increased rapidly in India since 2013, amounting to 44 per cent of the world’s increase in population. In the recent past, the most dangerous effects of pollution have been seen in South Asia. Apart from this, people’s health is also being affected by pollution in South East Asia, Central and West Africa, America and Europe. It is anticipated that those who live in the most polluted areas of Southeast Asia—particularly the areas surrounding the cities of Mandalay, Hanoi, and Jakarta—will live 3–4 years shorter on average.

According to this study, 97 per cent of the world’s population is living in such areas, where the level of air pollution is many times higher than normal. Particles of PM2.5 present in the air cause serious damage to the lungs. The study warns that if air pollution is not made a public health issue, the situation may become more serious.

If the level of PM2.5 as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) were reduced globally by five micrograms per cubic meter, life expectancy would increase by an average of 2.2 years. According to Dr Sonia Rawat, Director, Department of Preventive Health and Wellness, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital (Delhi), our lungs are affected the most due to air pollution. Lungs become weak due to prolonged exposure to dust, soil and smoke.

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