In 2019, India lost 1.4% of GDP due to deaths from air pollution: Lancet paper

1.7 million deaths were attributable to air pollution last year

While the pollution load dipped on Wednesday, the forecast is that it will slip into severe category again from November 13 | Sanjay Ahlawat While the pollution load dipped on Wednesday, the forecast is that it will slip into severe category again from November 13 | Sanjay Ahlawat

The economic loss due to premature deaths and morbidity from air pollution was Rs 2.6 lakh crore or 1.4 per cent of the GDP in India in 2019, according to a new scientific paper.

It also said that 1.7 million deaths (18 per cent of the total deaths) in the country were attributable to air pollution last year.

According to the scientific paper on health and economic impact of air pollution published in Lancet Planetary Health on Tuesday, household air pollution decreased in India resulting in 64 per cent reduction in the death rate attributable to it from 1990 to 2019, whereas the death rate from outdoor ambient air pollution increased during this period by 115 per cent.

The findings highlight that lost output from deaths and diseases due to air pollution led to a loss of 1.4 per cent of the GDP of the country.

India has a good economic and development trajectory, which can improve further with the reduction of air pollution, the scientific paper noted.

According to the paper, the economic loss due to air pollution as a percentage of the state GDP was higher in the northern and central India states, with the highest in Uttar Pradesh (2.2 per cent of GDP) and Bihar (2 per cent of GDP).

NITI Aayog member Prof Vinod Paul said the scientific paper presents the latest evidence on air pollution in India, translating the health loss to economic impact.

India has many ongoing major initiatives to reduce air pollution. This paper provides a robust assessment of the trends and current situation in each state, and highlights that augmenting the existing air pollution control efforts based on the specific situation of each state would be useful.

Air pollution and its impact is not a matter for the health sector alone, and the solutions lie in a multi-sectoral approach with a common commitment to reducing exposure to toxic air, which is impacting the health and productivity of Indians, " he said.

ICMR Director General Balram Bhargava said various government schemes such as the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana' and Unnat Chulha Abhiyan' have aided in reducing household air pollution in the country.

Such success encourages us to enhance efforts to reduce outdoor air pollution as well, he said.

"The findings in this analysis show that while 40 per cent of the disease burden due to air pollution is from lung diseases, the remaining 60 per cent is from ischemic heart disease, stroke, diabetes and neonatal deaths related to preterm birth, thus highlighting the broad-ranging impact of air pollution on human health," Bhargava added.