Severe Air Pollution in Delhi Shortens Lives by Nearly 12 Years, Global Report Reveals

University of Chicago Study Highlights Dire Impact of Air Quality on Delhi’s Residents and Satellite Cities

A recent global report highlighted that people living in Delhi are facing a potential loss of nearly 12 years of their lives due to severe air pollution. The report, called the Air Quality Life Index 2023 from the University of Chicago’s Energy Policy Institute (EPIC), revealed that Delhi has the worst air pollution among all megacities worldwide. Additionally, satellite cities like Noida and Gurugram are also at risk, with an average loss of over 11 years of life.

The study assessed annual average PM2.5 levels in various Indian cities and states, using 2021 as the base year, and compared the data against the World Health Organization’s (WHO) standard for PM2.5 of 5 micrograms per cubic metre. This fine particulate matter can lead to serious health issues and premature mortality.

The report identified the national capital region (NCR) as the most polluted area in India, impacting its residents the most globally. In the NCR, the average resident may lose around 11.9 years of life expectancy due to air pollution. Other cities like Gautam Budh Nagar (including Noida and Greater Noida), Gurugram, Faridabad, and Ghaziabad also face significant life expectancy reductions.

Notably, the northern plains of India, which include the capital city Delhi, were identified as the most polluted region globally. These areas are home to over half a billion people and have experienced severe pollution, significantly affecting life expectancy. The report underscored that although geological and meteorological factors contribute to the pollution, human activities like vehicular, residential, and agricultural sources play a substantial role.

Despite ongoing efforts to address the issue, the EPIC report emphasized that the air quality in northern India remains a major concern. According to experts, collaborative initiatives like the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) aim to mitigate pollution and improve air quality, which is crucial to safeguarding public health and the environment in the region.