Air Pollution Kills Over 600,000 People Every Year in India

Children affected by dust and air pollution at the RMN Foundation free school for deserving children in Delhi. Photo of November 2016 by Rakesh Raman
Children affected by dust and air pollution at the RMN Foundation free school for deserving children in Delhi. Photo of November 2016 by Rakesh Raman

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 621,138 people die from an air pollution-related disease each year in India.

While Delhi continues to be the most polluted city, the air in Delhi has an annual average of 122 µg/m3 of PM2.5 particles. That’s 12.2 times the WHO safe level.

With every breath, UNICEF also reports, children in India’s capital Delhi are suffering. Air pollution reports have indicated it hit record highs in the past weeks.

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Some say it hit 999 micrograms of particulate matter per cubic meter in one neighborhood, compared to an average of between 150-350 in January 2016.

An estimated 4.41 million children in Delhi missed three days of school following a decision to close the city’s 5,798 schools to minimize the risk for children to be exposed to the polluted air.

But this is not just a challenge in Delhi, UNICEF said. Air pollution levels in other Indian cities, such as Varanasi and Lucknow, have been equally extreme in recent days.

[ Delhi Is a Wakeup Call for World on Air Pollution: UNICEF ]

Also, according to WHO, the air in India has an annual average of 62 µg/m3 of PM2.5 particles. That’s 6.2 times the WHO safe level.

It also reveals that the top illness caused in India by air pollution is Ischemic heart disease.

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Rakesh Raman