The air Indians breathe is turningmore toxic by the day and an average of two deaths take placedaily due to air pollution, says a new study.
According to medical journal The Lancet, over a millionIndians die every year due to air pollution and some of theworst polluted cities of the world are in India.
The study released this week but based on 2010 dataestimates that globally 2.7-3.4 million preterm births may beassociated with PM2.5 exposure and South Asia is the worst hitaccounting for 1.6 million pre-term births.
The study says causes of air pollution and climate changeare intricately linked and needed to be tackled together.
The Lancet concludes that climate change posed both a"potentially catastrophic risk to human health", whileconversely being "the greatest global health opportunity ofthe 21st century" if the right steps are taken.
The smog over northern India is extracting a heavy toll,every minute two lives are lost in India due to ambient airpollution, the study published in The Lancet says.
Further, according an estimate by the World Bank, thiswould amount to a whopping USD 38 billion loss in incometowards labour in India.
Air pollution has also emerged as the deadliest form ofpollution and the fourth leading risk factor for prematuredeaths worldwide, it says.
Recently, 48 leading scientists released the study andthey find that Patna and New Delhi the worst polluted citiesof the world for PM 2.5 levels or the fine particulate matterthat hurts the heart most.
The study notes that a broader evidence base oninterrelated health and climate change trends will notablyhelp demonstrate clear co-benefits of action.
An estimated 18,000 people die every day due to airpollution exposure, making it the world's largest singleenvironmental health risk.
The World Bank in turn estimates it costs the globaleconomy USD 225 billion a year in related lost labour income.Contradicting some of the Indian reports, The Lancet sayscoal fired power plants contribute to 50 per cent of theambient air pollution.
Minister of State for Environment, Forest and ClimateChange Anil Madhav Dave recently admitted in Parliament thatthe country spends a mere Rs 7 crore annually on monitoringair pollution for a vast country of India's size with a 1.3billion population.
He had also said no credible study to quantify number ofpeople who have developed lung and allied diseases or numberof deaths directly as a result of air pollution is available.
Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan, a trainedphysician himself, says, "Pollution when it starts affectinglungs especially in little children can be a killer, it islike a slow poison and there is no reason for me not to beworried, a lot has been done, but still a lot that needs to bedone."