Over Half of World's Pollution Deaths in China, India

Pablo Tucker
February 14, 2017

SHANGHAI China's smog-hit capital Beijing will ban high-emission vehicles from Wednesday as part of its efforts to combat pollution, the official Xinhua news agency said, citing the local government.

India's notoriously poor air quality causes nearly 1.1 million premature deaths every year, almost on par with China, concluded a joint report by two US-based health research institutes.

New evidence and methodologies mean that the estimate is significantly higher than the figure published by the World Health Organization a year ago, which put the number of global air pollution-related deaths in 2012 at 3 million, HEI said.

But where deaths linked to air pollution in China have steadied in recent years, the rate has soared in India where smog readings in major cities routinely eclipse safe exposure levels.

Tackling emissions in cities such as Anyang and Tangshan will reduce the severity of air pollution in neighbouring areas and help Beijing reach its ambitious target this year to reduce the daily concentration of PM2.5 harmful breathable particles to 60 micrograms per cubic metre from 73 in 2016, it said. Unchecked rapid industrialization in China propelled it to become the world's second largest economy but polluted the air.

While early deaths related to PM2.5 in China have increased by 17.22 per cent since 1990, in India these have increased by 48 per cent.

The State of Global Air 2017 report said that India and China accounted for more than half of the worlds premature deaths due to air pollution and Indias lives lost to the tiny particulate matter was "approaching" Chinas numbers.

The U.S. -based Health Effects Institute (HEI) found that air pollution caused more than 4.2 million early deaths worldwide in 2015, making it the fifth highest cause of death, with about 2.2 million deaths in China and India. The US Clean Air Act and actions by the European Commission have made substantial progress in reducing people exposed to PM pollution since 1990.

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