By Shloka Nath:
76% of Indians live in places that do not meet national air quality standards. This means that air pollution in India is not a problem restricted to winters in Delhi or to India’s cities; in fact, no Indian state achieves pollution levels at or below the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) limits.
One in eight deaths in India was attributable to air pollution in 2017. Additionally, at 1.24 million, the deaths caused by air pollution are more than those caused by diarrhoea, tuberculosis, HIV, or malaria. The health cost of this is as high as USD 80 billion.
Lower-income populations are overexposed to causes of air pollution because they do not possess the financial strength to defend themselves against it. This is because of four reasons:
New research indicates that air pollution impacts birth weight, child growth, obesity, and bladder cancer. There is growing evidence of the adverse impacts of pollution on cognitive abilities in children.
Of the 600-plus air quality monitoring stations the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) set up across the country, there are none in rural areas. The lack of adequate monitoring and measurement systems leaves the air quality challenges in rural India uncovered.
84% of the total media coverage on air pollution is in English. 2
To know more, you can explore this emissions inventory, which provides more information on the sources of air pollution in India. You can also read more about India’s National Clean Air Programme and whether if it’s on track.
If you wish to do more, check the air quality in your area in real time on the Central Pollution Control Board’s National Air Quality Index or see the air quality across India at a glance here or here.
Note: this article was originally published here.
About the author: Shloka Nath is the Executive Director of the India Climate Collaborative. She also leads the Sustainability portfolio at the Tata Trusts, focused on the organisation’s climate, energy and environment work. Prior to this, Shloka co-founded and was Managing Partner, Sankhya Women Impact Funds. Shloka is an angel investor in social enterprises and has mentored organisations across sectors. She was Managing Editor for the Harvard Kennedy School Review and has spent over a decade in journalism with the BBC in London, New Delhi Television, and Forbes. Shloka has a Master’s in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a BSc in Government from The London School of Economics and Political Science.