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Delhi sees highest per capita economic loss

17.8% of total deaths in 2019 were attributable to air pollution, says Lancet study

The economic loss due to lost output from premature deaths attributable to ambient ozone pollution as a percentage of GDP in India was 0.05%
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The economic loss due to lost output from premature deaths attributable to ambient ozone pollution as a percentage of GDP in India was 0.05%

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New Delhi: Air pollution woes have quadrupled for Delhi, as the State suffered the highest per-capita economic loss due to air pollution last year, a study in the peer-reviewed medical journal Lancet suggests.

For years, northern India - especially New Delhi - has been battling critical levels of air pollution, which have remained consistently in the hazardous mark, for many days at a stretch, during winters. This air pollution has already taken a big toll on the health of the citizens and rattled the government, forcing it to devise new governance mechanism to address the menace of pollution in the capital. The study said the economic loss due to lost output from premature deaths and morbidity from air pollution was 1.36 per cent of the GDP in India in 2019. In Delhi, the loss due to lost output from premature deaths and illness attributable to air pollution as a percentage of State GDP was 1.06 per cent.

Uttar Pradesh recorded highest loss to GDP at 1.34 per cent followed by Punjab at 1.22 per cent. "Delhi had the highest per-capita economic loss due to air pollution, followed by Haryana in 2019, with 5.4 times variation across all States," said the findings.

According to the study, the economic loss per capita was highest in Delhi, which was to the tune of $62.0 followed by neighbouring Haryana at $53.8.

The study's findings suggested that 1.67 million deaths were attributable to air pollution in India in 2019, accounting for 17.8 per cent of the total deaths in the country.

The crude death rate per 100,000 population due to household air pollution decreased in India by 64.2 per cent from 1990 to 2019, due to reduced use of solid fuels, while that due to ambient particulate matter pollution increased by 115.3 per cent and that due to ambient ozone pollution increased by 139.2 per cent.

"The death rate due to household air pollution decreased by 64.2 per cent (52.2-74.2) from 1990 to 2019, while that due to ambient particulate matter pollution increased by 115.3 per cent (28.3-344.4) and that due to ambient ozone pollution increased by 139.2 per cent (96.5-195.8)," said the study.

The authors of the study suggested that in 2019, the economic loss due to lost output from premature deaths attributable to ambient ozone pollution as a percentage of GDP in India was 0.05 per cent and varied 11.2 times across the states, ranging from 0.01 per cent in Nagaland to 0.12 per cent in UP. The economic loss due to lost output from premature deaths attributable to air pollution in India in 2019 was $28.8 billion and from morbidity attributable to air pollution was $8.0 bn.

Sumit Saxena

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