India tops list of pollution-linked deaths

India has topped the list of countries with pollution-related deaths in 2015, with 2.51 million people dying prematurely in the country that year due to diseases linked to air, water and other forms of pollution, according to a new study published in the reputed medical journal, The Lancet.

India accounted for about 28 per cent of an estimated 9 million pollution-linked deaths worldwide in 2015, the study found. It also topped the list of deaths linked to polluted air (1.81 million) and water (0.64 million).

Most of the pollution-related deaths — 92 per cent — were reported in low and middle income countries, and in rapidly industrializing nations such as India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Madagascar and Kenya, the study said. China, with 1.8 million pollution-linked deaths in 2015, followed India on The Lancet list. Most of these deaths were due to non-communicable diseases caused by pollution, such as heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to The Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health’s study.

The study is part of a two-year project that involved more than 40 international health and environmental authors led by Philip Landrigan, an environmental scientist, and Richard Fuller, founder of NGO Pure Earth, and the secretariat of the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution.

Way ahead:

The Lancet study concluded that pollution is now the largest environmental cause of disease and death in the world today — three times more those from HIV-AIDS, TB and malaria put together.

It is “time to wake up” and start finding innovative solutions. For this, the government will need to take a lead role and formulate strategies on an urgent basis. Otherwise, the growing economy in the country will be a curse to the common man because this is coming at the cost of suffering and death.

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