The average life of an Indian could be extended by four years or even more if India is able to reduce air pollution to comply with the World Health Organisation’s standards. The average life expectancy in India is 67.3 for males and 69.6 for females, according to official figures reported by the Indian Express. If the country reduces pollution to comply with its national standards, the Air Quality-Life Index (AQLI) revealed that Indians could live more than a year longer on average, or a combined more than 1.6 billion life years.
People in the national capital – which was ranked as the most polluted city in the world for two consecutive years in 2014 and 2015- could live nine years longer if Delhi met WHO standards. Also, six years longer if it met the country’s own national standards, reported the Indian Express. Not only Delhi, but residents of Mumbai and Kolkata could also have a live roughly 3.5 years longer if the particulate matter levels conformed to WHO standards are accepted.
Director of Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC) and one of the authors of the 2017 study, Micheal Greenstone wrote, “High levels of air pollution are a part of people’s lives in India, just as they were in the US, England, Japan and other countries in the past. The last several decades have seen tremendous progress in many of these countries, but this progress did not happen by accident — it was the result of policy choices.”
EPIC India director Anant Sudarshan said that air pollution discussions at the government level are rarely motivated in terms of health effects. He was quoted by the Indian Express as saying, “It is not explained to people why we need to meet a standard. The government needs to speak the language of health, and explain to people that not meeting a standard would mean living less number of years.”