The particulate air pollution reduces global average life expectancy by 1.8 years, making it the single greatest threat to human health, a new index has revealed.
The particulate air pollution reduces global average life expectancy by 1.8 years, making it the single greatest threat to human health, a new index has revealed. The new index adds ‘L’ – that stands for ‘Life’ – to the standard Air Quality Index (AQI), naming the new index as the Air Quality Life Index (AQLI). The index found that the effect of particulate pollution, which is mainly fossil fuel-driven, on life expectancy exceeds that of communicable diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, behavioural killers like cigarette smoking, and even war. It is produced by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC).
The Indian Express report draws parallels with the role of these factors in reducing the global life expectancy. According to the report, first-hand cigarette smoke leads to a reduction in global average life expectancy of about 1.6 years in contrast to the 1.8 years from particulate pollution. While unsafe water and sanitation take off seven months, alcohol and drugs reduce the life expectancy by 11 months and HIV/AIDS by four months. Conflict and terrorism reduce life expectancy by 22 days.
People in India would live at least 4.3 years longer on an average if the country met WHO guidelines on particulate matter concentration, expanding the average life expectancy at birth from 69 to 73 years.
Surprisingly, the loss of life expectancy is the highest in Asia as it exceeds beyond six years in many parts of India and China. The two Asian giants make up for 36 per cent of the world’s population and they together account for 73 per cent of all years of life lost due to particulate pollution.
The studies, on which AQLI is based, quantify the causal relationship between long-term human exposure to particulate pollution and life expectancy. The results obtained from these studies are combined with hyper-localised, global particulate matter measurements to reach the final results.