Pollution linked to 1,16,000 infant deaths in India in 2019: report

For youngest infants, most deaths were related to complications from low birth weight and preterm birth

Outdoor and household particulate matter pollution contributed to the deaths of more than 1,16,000 Indian infants in their first month of life in 2019, according to State of Global Air 2020 report by the U.S.-based Health Effects Institute.

More than half of these deaths were associated with outdoor PM2.5 and others linked to use of solid fuels such as charcoal, wood, and animal dung for cooking.

Long-term exposure to outdoor and household air pollution contributed to over 1.67 million annual deaths from stroke, heart attack, diabetes, lung cancer, chronic lung diseases and neonatal diseases in India in 2019.

For the youngest infants, most deaths were related to complications from low birth weight and preterm birth.

Overall, air pollution is now the largest risk factor for death among all health risks, according to the report.

The study highlights the ongoing challenge of high outdoor air pollution — South Asian countries, including India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal feature among the top 10 countries with the highest PM2.5 exposures in 2019; all of these countries experienced increases in outdoor PM2.5 levels between 2010 and 2019. Use of solid fuels for cooking, however, presents a pattern of moderate success, the study notes.

Since 2010, more than 50 million fewer people have been exposed to household air pollution. The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana Household LPG programme and other schemes have helped to dramatically expand access to clean energy, especially for rural households. More recently, the National Clean Air Programme has spurred action on achieving clean air targets by 2022.


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