WASHINGTON: People in India would live an average of 4.3 years longer if the country meets global guidelines for particulate pollution. A study found that the impact of pollution on life expectancy is worse than HIV / AIDS, cigarette smoking and even terrorism.

According to the new Air Quality Life Index (AQLI), developed by researchers at the University of Chicago in the US, particulate pollution reduces people's average life expectancy by 1.8 years per person.

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The AQLI states that particle pollution is the biggest threat to human health worldwide. The impact on life expectancy exceeds those of devastating communicable diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV / AIDS, behavioral killers such as cigarette smoking and even war.

Critically, the AQLI reports these results in concrete terms that are relevant to most people.

"Across the world, people are breathing air today, which poses a serious risk to their health, but the way this risk is communicated is often obscure and confusing, translating air pollution levels into colors like red, brown, orange and green . " said Michael Greenstone, a professor at the Energy Policy Institute of the University of Chicago (EPIC).

"My colleagues and I developed the AQLI, where the" L "stands for" life, "to remedy these shortcomings, taking particles of air pollution and converting them into perhaps the most important measure: life expectancy," he said.

The AQLI is based on a couple of studies that quantify the causal link between long-term human exposure to particle pollution and life expectancy.

Seventy-five percent of the world's population or 5.5 billion people live in areas where particulate pollution exceeds the WHO Directive.

The AQLI shows that India and China, which make up 36 percent of the world's population, account for 73 percent of all years of particle pollution lost.

On average, people in India would live 4.3 years longer if the country complied with the WHO Directive – the average life expectancy at birth would be increased from 69 to 73 years.

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In the USA, about one third of the population lives in areas that are not in compliance with the WHO Directive.

The people living in the most polluted areas of the country could live one year longer if the pollution meets the WHO Directive.

The AQLI shows worldwide that particulate pollution reduces average life expectancy by 1.8 years, making it the world's largest threat to human health.

By comparison, first-hand cigarette smoke leads to a reduction in global average life expectancy of about 1.6 years.

Other risks to human health have even less impact: alcohol and drugs reduce life expectancy by 11 months. unsafe water and sanitation expire 7 months; and HIV / AIDS, 4 months.

Conflicts and terrorism decrease 22 days.

The impact of particulate matter on life expectancy is therefore comparable to that of smoking, twice that of alcohol and drug use, three times that of unsafe water, five times that of HIV / AIDS, and more than 25 times that of conflict and terrorism.

"While people can stop smoking and take steps to protect themselves from disease, they can do little to protect themselves from the breath," said Greenstone.

"The AQLI informs citizens and policymakers about the impact of particulate matter on them and their communities, and highlights the benefits of a particulate matter reduction policy," he said.



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