Will you drink a glass of water with visible contaminants if it is offered to you? The answer is a clear no. However, because we can’t see how dirty the air is, millions of people in India breathe contaminated air every single day. Leading health practitioners have been canvassing to have air pollution declared as a health emergency. The recent Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) released by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC) revealed that air pollution is likely to reduce the life expectancy of about 40 per cent of Indians by more than nine years.
The link between air pollution and a variety of unfavourable health consequences is becoming increasingly clear, but its negative economic effect is less understood. In India, air pollution was responsible for 1.67 million fatalities in 2019, accounting for 17.8 per cent of the country’s total mortality, according to the Lancet Global Burden of Disease Report. The bulk of these fatalities (98 million) were caused by ambient particulate matter pollution and home air pollution (0.61 million). In India, economic costs due to premature mortality and sickness caused by air pollution amounted to US$28.8 billion and $8 billion, respectively, in 2019.