The Air That Kills in India


This article is about a new analysis by Boston-based Health Effect Institute, the thick haze of outdoor air pollution common in India today is the nation’s fifth-largest killer, after high blood pressure, indoor air pollution, smoking and poor nutrition. Also, the article claims that in 2010, outdoor air pollution contributed to over 620,000 premature deaths in India, up from 100,000 a decade ago. The problem is more than just bad air. It is a large array of diseases related to air pollution, including cardiovascular diseases that eventually are the caused for heart attacks and strokes, respiratory infections and lung cancer. According to this new analysis, outdoor air pollution containing fine particles contributed to 3.2 million deaths globally in 2010, up from 800,000 in 2000. Scientists and health researchers have come to understand that air pollution that contains fine particulates are a far more significant public health threat than they previously believed. These particles are introduced in the environment via various forms. A large contributing factor of these particles comes from the exhaust of vehicles. In Asia, according to the article, exhaust from vehicles accounted for 20 to 35 percent of air pollution. Other significant contributes are emissions from factories and power plants, the burning of biomass like wood and plant matter, and dust. Earlier this year, The Center for Science and Environment, a Delhi-based nongovernmental organization, as a result of the analysis bed by the Boston-based Health Effect Institute, recommended the implementation of stricter air quality standards in Indian cities and making these legally binding. Among the suggestions are the introduction of more stringent vehicle emissions rules and standards like those introduced in The European Union— namely, Euro V and Euro VI. Also, India’s ministry of environment and forests has recommended: upgrading vehicle fuel to low-sulfur diesel, issuance of cleaner construction methods, and better public transportation in New Delhi, including more buses, a tax on diesel-powered cars and higher parking fees to reduce the usage of cars in the city. Despite India’s weak enforcement of environmental laws in the past, environmentalist and health experts are hopeful that the new findings and supportive evidences that the new analysis revealed regarding air pollution and chronic health related problems arising from air pollution, will make India l double its efforts to protect public health of its citizens.

-Sofia Guerra

Topic and category: Atmosphere and Air Pollution

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