Indians face greater health risks from air pollution than people living in China, a new study has found.
Scientists and doctors working with the Health Effects Institute in Boston studied satellite data and air pollution from 1990 to 2015 in countries around the world and found that air-pollution levels have risen dramatically across northern India and Bangladesh since 2010.
The 2017 State of Global Air report, released Tuesday by the institute and others, finds that since 1990 the absolute number of ozone-related deaths has risen at an alarming rate in India — by about 150 percent — while in China, some European nations and Russia, the number has remained stable. Measured per head of population, India substantially outpaces China, with 14.7 ozone-related deaths for every 100,000 people, compared with China’s 5.9
In addition, the absolute number of deaths in India attributed to fine particulate matter in the air were approaching China’s toll in 2015 and probably exceed that figure by now, according to Dan Greenbaum, president of the Health Effects Institute. An increase in vehicle traffic, emissions from coal-fired power plants and other industrial facilities, and fires fueled by wood and dung contribute to the problem. When calculated per 100,000 of population, the number in both countries has decreased, although India’s remains far above China’s.
“India has substantially higher air-pollution levels than China today and is caught up and surpassing China in terms of the risk to the population’s health,” Greenbaum said.
The study shows that in 2015, long-term exposure to fine particulate matter — the dangerous tiny particles that can penetrate the lungs and cause cancer, heart disease and other ailments — contributed to 4.2 million deaths globally. China and India together accounted for 52 percent of those