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    2.61 Crore Premature Deaths Linked to Air Pollution in India in Four Decades

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    2.61 Crore Premature Deaths Linked to Air Pollution in India in Four Decades

    This is one of the most expansive studies on air quality and climate as it uses 40 years of data on the effects of PM2.5 on health.

    A study led by researchers from Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) revealed that pollution arising out of fine particulate matter 2.5 (or PM2.5) from man-made emissions and other sources like wildfires was associated with approximately 2.61 crores premature deaths in India between 1980 and 2020.

    According to the study, people were dying younger than the average life expectancy. The study this younger age of death to diseases or conditions arising out of pollution that could have been treated or prevented. These include strokes, heart and lung disease, and cancer. Further, the study says, weather patterns increased the deaths by 14 per cent, the study found.

    “Asia was estimated to have the largest number of PM2.5-attributable premature deaths – 98.1 million – from 1980 to 2020,” the authors of the study say.

    “In Asia, China and India had the highest number of PM2.5-attributable premature deaths, accounting for 49.0 million and 26.1 million, respectively,” the authors say.

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    “Besides the two countries, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Japan had a remarkable number of PM2.5-attributable premature deaths, ranging from 2 to 5 million in each of them.”

    Led by Asian School of the Environment (ASE) and Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine Associate Professor Steve Yim, who is also Principal Investigator at NTU’s Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS), the study found that fine particulate matter from 1980 to 2020 was associated with approximately 135 million premature deaths globally.

    Four decades

    This is one of the most expansive studies on air quality and climate as it uses 40 years of data on the effects of PM2.5 on health.

    “While previous studies have explored aspects of air quality and climate, this study had a global scope and analysed over 40 years of data,” NTU said in a media release.

    “By examining how specific climate patterns affect air pollution in different regions, it offers fresh insights into the complex relationship between climate and air quality.”

    The study says that weather phenomena like El Nino and the Indian Ocean Dipole have further aggravated the effects of these pollutants by intensifying their concentration in the air.

    “The study found that the impact of pollution from fine particulate matter was worsened by climate variability phenomena such as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, the Indian Ocean Dipole, and the North Atlantic Oscillation, and led to a 14 per cent rise in premature deaths.”

    PM 2.5 are harmful to human health when inhaled because they extremely small and escape into the human bloodstream. Fine particulate matter, or PM2.5, refers to particulate matter 2.5 micrometres in diameter or smaller. These tiny particles come from vehicle emissions, industrial processes, and natural sources such as wildfires and dust storms.

    The study estimated that a third of the premature deaths from 1980 to 2020 were associated with stroke (33.3 per cent); another third with ischemic heart disease (32.7 per cent), while chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lower respiratory infections, and lung cancer made up the rest of premature deaths.

    In the study, premature deaths refer to fatalities that occur earlier than expected based on average life expectancy, resulting from preventable or treatable causes such as diseases or environmental factors.

    PM2.5

    Fine particulate matter, or PM2.5, refers to particulate matter 2.5 micrometres in diameter or smaller. These tiny particles come from vehicle emissions, industrial processes, and natural sources such as wildfires and dust storms.

    The study estimated that a third of the premature deaths from 1980 to 2020 were associated with stroke (33.3 per cent); another third with ischemic heart disease (32.7 per cent), while chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lower respiratory infections, and lung cancer made up the rest of premature deaths.

    To understand how PM2.5 pollution affects mortality rates, the researchers studied satellite data from NASA on the levels of fine particulate matter in the Earth’s atmosphere. They also analysed statistics on the incidence and mortality of diseases linked to pollution from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, based in the US. Additionally, they considered information on climate patterns from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

    Image: Hippopx

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