Indians on an average are losing 5.3 years of their lives to air pollution, according to the Air Quality Life Index report of the Energy Policy Institute at University of Chicago. Delhi residents are most at risk. They’re losing 11.9 years to the capital’s pollution levels exceeding the safety limit prescribed by the World Health Organization (WHO). Delhi recorded average annual particulate pollution of 126.5 micrograms per cubic metre in 2021, more than 25 times the WHO limit. While there is enough awareness of the problem, the report’s estimation of shortened lives may push authorities into urgent action. Indians are breathing toxic air, and if solutions aren’t found, we risk not just a health disaster but also compromising the future of India’s younger generations. That would prove damaging economically as well, considering the harm it would do to India’s human capital. To be sure, governments at different levels are vowing to do all they can to clean our air. But worsening smog suggests a high degree of complacency on a life threat. The report should make the country double down on mitigation efforts. Our scientific advances shouldn’t be clouded by a failure on air safety.
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Updated: 31 Aug 2023, 12:12 AM IST