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Social and Other cost of air Pollution in Indian cities
Sep 19, 2016

According to a World Health Organization report Half of the world’s 20 most polluted cities are in India. Report showed India’s upcoming towns and cities were grappling with toxic air, possibly because of limited government intervention and increasing vehicular congestion.

What does it cost to cities?

This pollution is not just blot on ecology of cities where it pollutes its environment but have social and economic cost too.

According to a joint study by World Bank and University of Washington, report titled:  the cost of air pollution: strengthening the economic case for action:

  • Total welfare losses between 1990 and 2013 because of premature deaths from air pollution increased by 94%.
  • Of this, damages from ambient PM 2.5 air pollution rose by 63% during this period to $3.5 trillion, while damages from household air pollution from cooking with solid fuels jumped almost four-fold to $1.5 trillion, adjusted to the purchasing power parity (PPP) in 2011.
  • In terms of welfare losses because of air pollution, India ranks second after China at $505.1 billion, or 7.69% of its gross domestic product (GDP), in 2013.
  • Premature deaths due to air pollution in 2013 cost the global economy about $225 billion in lost labour income, or about $5.11 trillion in welfare losses, worldwide.
  • Loss in labour output:  India reported the highest loss in labour output in 2013 owing to air pollution globally at $55.39 billion (2011 PPP-adjusted), or 0.84% of its GDP. China followed close behind with $44.56 billion, or 0.28% of its GDP, lost due to forgone labour output.
  • Life at risk: Air pollution kills more people than tobacco, alcohol or drug use or unsafe sex in most countries. At 10.1% of total deaths globally, air pollution ranked fourth among the leading fatal health risks after metabolic risks, dietary risks and tobacco smoke.
  • Low- and middle-income countries account for 93% of the deaths and non-fatal illness each year from air pollution. India and China also accounted for the highest number of deaths due to air pollution in 2013. But while China reported an increase of only 7% between 1990 and 2013, deaths due to air pollution in India during the same period increased by 34.5%.
  • Death of children and elders:The number of deaths due to air pollution was also higher for children and older people. In 2013, the mortality rate due to air pollution was 18 deaths per 100,000 people under age 5, which increased to 397 deaths per 100,000 in people over age of 70, according to the report. Disability-adjusted life years, too, were higher for young children and among adults aged 60-64 years. Disability-adjusted life year is a measure of overall disease burden, expressed as the number of years lost due to ill-health, disability or early death.

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