New Delhi: India saw over 23.5 lakh premature deaths due to pollution of all types – including 16.7 lakh fatalities caused by air pollution – in 2019, the highest among all countries globally, according to a new study published in The Lancet Planetary Health journal.
The majority of air pollution-related deaths – 9.8 lakh – in India were caused by ambient PM2.5 pollution — tiny pollution particles in the air that are two and one-half microns or less in width, the researchers said.
Another 6.1 lakh were due to household air pollution, they said. Globally, pollution of any kind was responsible for nine million deaths in 2019 – equivalent to one in six deaths worldwide.
In India, air pollution is most severe in the Indo-Gangetic Plain (northern India), where topography and meteorology concentrate pollution from energy, mobility, industry, agriculture, and other activities, the researchers said.
According to the study, the burning of biomass in households was the single largest cause of air pollution deaths in India, followed by coal combustion and crop burning.
The report noted that India’s PM2.5 pollution remains well above World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines of 10 micrograms per cubic meter in 93 percent area of the country.