India is the world’s second most-polluted country: Energy Policy Institute, University of Chicago

According to the report, 84 per cent Indians live in areas which exceed India’s own air quality standard.

India is today the world’s second most-polluted country, and almost all of India’s population lives in areas where the annual average particulate level exceeds the WHO guidelines, according to a report on Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago.

According to the report, 84 per cent Indians live in areas which exceed India’s own air quality standard. “A quarter of India’s population is exposed to pollution levels not seen in any other country, 248 million residents of northern India on track to lose more than 8 years of life expectancy, if the pollution levels persist”, the report said.

Lucknow, which is the capital city of Uttar Pradesh, is found to have the highest levels of pollution in the country with the pollution being 11 times greater than the WHO guidelines.

The report said India’s capital city Delhi is also highly polluted, noting the residents of Delhi can prolong their lives by 9.4 years if the pollution in the capital were to reduce to meet the WHO guideline, and 6.5 years if the pollution met India’s national standard.

According to the report, air pollution in India shortens the life expectancy of an average India by 5.2 years relative to what it could be if the guidelines of WHO are met. It decreases by 2.3 years if the country meets its own standards.

It said that the high pollution levels in Delhi could limit the lives of people by 9.4 years while those living in UP could see a decrease of 8.6 years, which also happens to be the most polluted Indian state.

“Since 1998, average annual participation pollution has increased 42 per cent, cutting 1.8 years off the life of the average resident over these years,” the report said.

Developed by the University of Chicago’s Milton Friedman Dinstinguished Service Professor in Economics Michael Greenstone and his team at the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC), the AQLI is based on research that quantifies the causal relationship between long-term human exposure to air pollution and life expectancy.