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May 2022

Most premature deaths due to air pollution in South Asian cities

Source: Asia Insurance Review | May 2022

A new study has found that exposure to air pollution has been linked to 100,000 excess premature deaths in the Indian cities of Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Chennai, Surat, Pune and Ahmedabad between 2005 and 2018.
 
An international team of scientists studied space-based observations from instruments onboard NASA and European Space Agency (ESA) satellites from 2005 to 2018. The team is now working to address data gaps in air quality for 46 cities in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
 
The study findings published in the journal Science Advances in April 2022, shows rapid degradation in air quality and increases in urban exposure to air pollutants which are hazardous to health. The researchers found significant annual increases in pollutants directly hazardous to health of up to 14% for nitrogen dioxide and up to 8% for fine particles.
 
The scientists also found increase in the level of up to 12% for ammonia and up to 11% for reactive volatile organic compounds. The team, including researchers from the Harvard University in the US, attributed this rapid degradation in air quality to emerging industries and residential sources like road traffic, waste burning, and widespread use of charcoal and fuelwood.
 
University College of London (UCL) faculty and lead author of the study Karn Vohra said, “Open burning of biomass for land clearance and agricultural waste disposal has in the past overwhelmingly dominated air pollution in the tropics.
 
Dr Vohra said, “Our analysis suggests we are entering a new era of air pollution in these cities, with some experiencing rates of degradation in a year that other cities experience in a decade.”
The study found that the increase in the number of people dying prematurely from exposure to air pollution was highest in cities in South Asia. A 
 
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