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India, China can protect 1.4 million premature deaths by improving quality of Air: Study

Jun 18, 2015 16:17 IST

A study titled Addressing Global Mortality from Ambient PM2.5 published on 16 June 2015 says that 1.4 million premature deaths per year in polluted countries such as India and China can be prevented by improving air quality.

The study was led by Joshua S Apte of the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas Austin and was published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

The study assesses how regional and global improvements in ambient air quality could reduce attributable mortality from Particulate Matter (PM2.5).

Main findings of the study

  • An aggressive global program of PM2.5 mitigation in line with WHO interim guidelines could avoid 750000 (23%) of the 3.2 million deaths per year currently attributable to ambient PM2.5
  • Modest improvements in PM2.5 in relatively clean regions, viz., North America and Europe would result in surprisingly large avoided mortality
  • Major improvements in air quality would be required to substantially reduce mortality from PM2.5 in more polluted regions, such as China and India
  • In India and China, to keep PM2.5-attributable mortality rates, that is, deaths per 100000 people per year constant, average PM2.5 levels would need to decline by 20–30% over the next 15 years merely to offset increases in PM2.5-attributable mortality from aging populations.
  • An effective program to deliver clean air to the world’s most polluted regions could avoid several hundred thousand premature deaths each year.

PM2.5 particles can enter deep into the lungs leading to increase in the risk of heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular disease, respiratory illnesses such as emphysema; and cancer.

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