Over half of the deaths across the world caused by air pollution were in India and China where 2.2 million people died in 2015, a study said on Tuesday.

Air pollution contributed to 4.2 million premature deaths worldwide in 2015, making air pollution the fifth highest cause of death among all health risks, including smoking, diet, and high blood pressure, the report published by the Health Effects Institute has said.

“The analysis found that China and India together were responsible for over half of the total global attributable deaths,” the first annual State of Global Air Report by the institute said.

“The study also finds that increasing exposure and a growing and ageing population have meant that India now rivals China for among the highest air pollution health burdens in the world, with both countries facing some 1.1 million early deaths from air pollution in 2015,”

India’s New Delhi and China’s Beijing are the world’s most polluted cities.

Air pollution is one of the biggest problems in the country.

Unchecked rapid industrialisation in China propelled it to become the world’s second-largest economy but polluted the air.

China alone burns 47% of the world’s coal. In winter, the coal-fired plants are the biggest contributor to the choking smog in northern part of the country.

Beijing and around two dozen cities were under heavy blanket of smog at the end December 2016.

New Delhi is no less, with dust and diesel-driven cars adding to the pollution woe. Crop burning in neighbouring state is also source of pollution.

“We are seeing increasing air pollution problems worldwide, and this new report details why that air pollution is a major contributor to early death,” said Dan Greenbaum, President of the Health Effects Institute (HEI1), in a statement.

The report also finds that 92% of the world’s population lives in areas with unhealthy air.

“The trends we report show that we have seen progress in some parts of the world – but serious challenges remain,” he added.

The State of Global Air 2017 is the first of a new series of annual reports and accompanying interactive website, designed and implemented by the HEI in cooperation with the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington and the University of British Columbia, a statement said.

Although there are many parts of the world where air pollution has grown worse, there has also been improvement in the US and Europe, the study said.

The US Clean Air Act and actions by the European Commission have made substantial progress in reducing people exposed to PM pollution since 1990.

First Published | 14 February 2017 5:40 PM
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