Polluted air killed 1.69 lakh Indian kids in 2021 : The Tribune India

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Polluted air killed 1.69 lakh Indian kids in 2021

Highest under-5 fatalities in country: SoGA report

Polluted air killed 1.69 lakh Indian kids in 2021

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 19

In 2021, India recorded the highest number of 1,69,400 deaths of children under the age of five years owing to air pollution. The State of Global Air (SoGA)-2024 report released on Wednesday said that air pollution accounted for 8.1 million deaths globally in 2021, including more than 7 lakh deaths in children under five years.

Air pollution, after malnutrition, was the second leading risk factor for death among children under five in 2021.

Of the 7 lakh deaths in children, a staggering 5 lakh were linked to household air pollution due to cooking indoors with polluting fuel, mostly in Africa and Asia.

Nigeria (1.14 lakh deaths), Pakistan (68,100), Ethiopia (31,100), and Bangladesh (19,100) were the other countries which saw the largest numbers of air pollution-related deaths among the children under five.

With a population of over one billion, India has recorded 2.1 million deaths due to air pollution, including 2.37 lakh ozone-related deaths followed by China (1,25,600 deaths) and Bangladesh (15,000 deaths). Ozone is a highly reactive gas that has been linked to respiratory problems and cardiovascular disease and can lead to illness and premature death.

“Breathing polluted air for months or years can lead to illness and early death from heart and lung diseases and diabetes as well as increasing the likelihood of adverse birth outcomes, including preterm births, stillbirths and miscarriages,” the report said.

“This new report offers a stark reminder of the significant impacts air pollution has on human health, with far too much of the burden borne by young children, older populations, and low and middle income countries,” said Dr Pallavi Pant, who oversaw the SoGA report release.

PM2.5, which is emitted from the burning of fossil fuels and biomass in sectors such as transportation, residential homes, coal-burning power plants, industrial activities and wildfires, is to blame for more than 90 per cent of global air pollution deaths, the report found. PM2.5 particles can enter the bloodstream and are found to be associated not only with lung disease but heart disease, stroke, diabetes, dementia and miscarriage, the report said.

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