Pollution-related illnesses rising in Asian megacities; led to 15,000 premature deaths in Delhi – study

July 13, 2018

About 15,000 people died prematurely in Delhi in 2016 from illnesses linked to fine particulate matter pollution, according to a new study by researchers from India, Singapore and Thailand that assessed pollution-related deaths in 13 megacities in south Asia and China.

Heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, lung cancer among adults and upper respiratory tract illnesses in children are all related to particulate pollution exposure.

The study, published in Elsevier’s Process Safety and Environmental Protection journal, found that most deaths related to PM 2.5 (particulate matter 2.5 microns or less in diameter), were reported from Beijing (18,200), Shanghai (17,600) and Delhi.

The study pointed out to the lack of policies and absence of immediate targets will account for the pollution-related mortalities in megacities of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan; while China’s Shanghai and Beijing need more government attention to control PM 2.5 associated health burden.Attaining World Health Organisation  (WHO) standard will help in reducing above 60% of PM 2.5-related mortalities in future, the study suggested.

According to WHO in its 2016 report, urban air pollution is rising and over 80% of city dwellers breathe poor quality air, which can raise the risk of stroke, heart disease, lung cancer and chronic and acute respiratory diseases, including asthma. The situation is far worse in poorer regions of the world, including India and Iran. Outdoor air pollution causes over 3 million premature deaths per year. India was cited in the WHO report as among the four cities – after the Iranian city, Zabol,  with the dirtiest air.  Meanwhile, Delhi was ranked ninth overall and the most polluted among selected mega-cities with population exceeding 14 million people.  The Indian government has since been addressing the issue through national policies and other such measures.



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