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Does Air Pollution in India Affect Life Expectancy in Delhi NCR Region?

The residents of Delhi may face a potential loss of 11.9 years in their lifespan if the current pollution levels continue to persist - AQLI
The residents of Delhi may face a potential loss of 11.9 years in their lifespan if the current pollution levels continue to persist - AQLI

Delhi NCR residents lose nearly 5 years of their lives to air pollution, says report,

Delhi’s annual average PM2.5 level in 2021 was found to be 126.5 µg/m3, which is more than 25 times the World Health Organization (WHO) guideline.

Does Air Pollution  in India Affect  Life Expectancy?

The University of Chicago's Energy Policy Institute has released the Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) report for 2023, revealing that the residents of Delhi are losing approximately 5.2 years of their lives due to air pollution.

AQI Threats in India

This report measures the impact of particulate pollution on life expectancy and utilizes data from 2021 to determine its effects. The findings indicate that Delhi's average PM2.5 level in 2021 was 126.5 µg/m3, which is more than 25 times higher than the World Health Organization's guideline of 5 µg/m3. Comparatively, in 2020, this figure was slightly lower at 107 µg/m3.

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In 2021, the levels of air pollution in India

as measured by PM2.5 data from satellites, have risen to 58.7 µg/m3, surpassing the WHO guideline of 5 µg/m3 by more than 10 times.

Particulate matter pollution poses the greatest threat to human health in India, leading to a decrease in life expectancy by 5.2%

Top 5 threats to Life Expectancy
Source: Global Burden of Disease (

Cardiovascular diseases also contribute to a decrease in life expectancy, with an average reduction of about 4.5 years. Additionally, child and maternal malnutrition further reduces life expectancy by 1.8 years due to air pollution in India.

The average Indian resident is set to lose 11.1 years of life expectancy if the WHO guideline is not met,” the report stated.

What could happen if PM2.5 levels are reduced?

According to a report, if the PM2.5 level in Delhi is decreased to adhere to the WHO guideline of 5 µg/m³ as an annual average, individuals residing in Delhi could potentially extend their life expectancy by 9.4 years.

The report also highlights that if the PM2.5 concentration is reduced from the current 2021 level to the national standard of 40 µg/m³, which is significantly lower than the WHO guideline, Delhi residents could still gain 8.5 years in life expectancy.

The Government of India has set a goal to achieve a 40 percent reduction in particulate pollution levels by 2026 in 131 non-attainment cities, which could increase the national average life expectancy by 7.9 months and by 4.4 years for residents of Delhi, the most polluted non-attainment city.

At UBreathe, we recommend a few measures to combat the severe risk associated with PM 2.5

  • Limit outdoor activity: According to researchers at UBreathe When pollution levels are high, especially for vulnerable groups like children, the elderly, and those with pre-existing health conditions.

  • Invest in air purifiers: Consider using plant-based air purifiers in your home and workspace to eliminate pollutants.

  • Reduce indoor air pollution: Avoid smoking and burning incense indoors. Use natural ventilation and exhaust fans when cooking or using gas appliances.

  • Optimize your health: Ubreathe researchers suggest that you maintain a healthy diet rich in antioxidants and fruits. Exercise regularly to improve lung function and overall health. Manage existing health conditions effectively to minimize complications from air pollution.

Cities that face similar consequences due to being part of the Delhi NCR region or being around the region: Delhi, Noida, Gurgaon, Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Meerut, Bahadurgarh, Sonipat, Panipat, Karnal, Rohtak, Palwal, Bulandshahr, Aligarh, Bhiwani, Jhajjar, Muzaffarnagar, Rewari, and others.

tags: PM2.5, Smog, Vehicular Emissions, Industrial Pollution, Crop Burning, Construction Dust, Air Quality Index (AQI), Respiratory Issues, Government Measures, Public Health Concerns, Environmental Impact, Clean Air Initiatives, Odd-Even Rule, Air Purifiers, Public Awareness, UBreathe air purifier, Air Purifier for home in Delhi

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