Air pollution cutting short lives by 10 years

Human-induced activities in every sector are currently affecting the environment in one way or the other. Developmental projects and rapid urbanization are resulting in rising emissions around the world and have worsened the Air Quality Index (AQI) across the world.


The average Air Quality Index (AQI) of Delhi in the past month was recorded between 150-200 mark which is considered to be under the severe category and poisonous to breathe in. These numbers are not just limited to India but major nations are emitting carbon at a catastrophic rate. As per the World Air Quality Index Project Delhi’s air quality index (AQI) during November last year was by far the worst at 312.

These catastrophic AQI levels in the capital are posing a serious threat to human health by imprinting deeper impacts. The recently released Air Quality Life Index report by the University of Chicago’s Energy Policy Institute highlighted that the pollution in Delhi is evidently cutting short the lives of citizens by 10 years. The report added that India is the second most polluted country in the world following China and Delhi, unfortunately, stands at the top among the polluted cities in the world. 

Poor AQI is a health hazard

Regular contact with poor air quality can pose some serious threats to human health. As per the medical experts, air pollution can have impacts such as irritation in the eyes, nose, and throat, shortness of breath, aggravation of asthma and other respiratory conditions. It can also develop deadly diseases like cancer affecting the heart and cardiovascular system. Exposure to polluted air for an extended duration can cause more life-threatening problems. 

A study conducted by the University of Southern California highlighted the long-term effects of air pollution on children’s respiratory health. The study mentioned that due to the long exposure to higher AQI levels children developed short-term respiratory infections, and worsened the breathing conditions of children having asthma. Living in areas with poor air quality and high pollution can also damage the lungs, the study adds. Apart from the physical damage air pollution can also alter the child’s developing brain which may ultimately “increase the risk for cognitive and emotional problems later in adolescence”. 

Interventions to curb air pollution

At the COP26 Global climate summit held in Glasgow, India announced its climate action goals to move forward. India promised to fulfil 50 per cent of its energy requirement through renewable energy, reduce 1 billion tons of carbon emissions from the total projected emissions by 2030 and will achieve net-zero emissions.

In the past years also the Indian government addressed the problem of rising pollution in the country. In 2019, the Govt. launched National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) which is aimed to reduce pollutants by 20-30 percent from the environment by 2024. Another step of the central government to curb the vehicular emissions from the country is pushing aggressively EV policies in the country. India also launched an online portal, ‘E-Amrit’ which is a one-stop destination for all the citizens to get the details of all the launched policies, subsidies and other information regarding the electric vehicle policy in India. 

Way forward

Despite all the policy measures and regulations to curb air pollution, the Air Quality Index (AQI) of the country is still registering deadly numbers. Air pollution is an issue which is being mentioned in the school curriculum for years now but the problem has only gotten worse.

Effective measures at the community level are the need of the hour to safeguard against the health effects of climate change.

Afforestation to increase the green cover along with the developmental projects to mitigate the impacts in the urban regions, adopting green and alternative transportation alternatives, carpooling whenever possible, and reducing the use of fossil fuels such as coal and petroleum to curb the emissions of harmful gases such as Co2 are some measures that can help in achieving the climate action goals.

As far as the policymakers are concerned stringent actions must be taken to strengthen the climate action targets. Escalating the renewable energy capacity and implementing strategies to directly aid the citizens and ensuring that citizens must get the clean air to breathe in must be a priority.

Written By:

Manvender Pratap Singh

Manvender is a passionate content creator with a journalism degree who has a knack for developing human-interest content. In the past, he was involved with a National News Channel and a video production company and has experience in writing, designing and video production.

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