Common Cause and Lokniti Programme of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), launched India’s first Status of Policing in India Report (SPIR 2018) at the India Habitat Centre on May 9.

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Some Facts about Air Pollution


  • In 2017, the PM 2.5 concentration in Delhi was more than 1200 microgram per cubic metre, i.e. 48 times the guideline value established by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
  • While it may be the most polluted city on earth, Delhi is not the only place affected by air pollution. This is a global epidemic, with 92 per cent of the world population living in places where the WHO air-quality guideline levels were not met in 2014.
  • According to the Lancet Commission on pollution and health, 2.5 million people died early because of pollution in 2015.
  • According to a study conducted by Health Effects Institute (HEI), particulate-matter (PM) air pollution was responsible for approximately 1.1 million deaths, or 10.6 per cent of the total number of deaths in India in 2015.
  • Between 1990 and 2015, India posted a 150 per cent increase in annual deaths from COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, one of the diseases attributable to air pollution), according to HEI estimates.
  • Studies worldwide link exposure of pregnant women to ambient-air pollution with low birth weight, intrauterine growth restriction, and preterm birth.
  • The welfare economic losses due to pollution are estimated to be US$ 4-6 trillion per year. This is 6.2 per cent of global-economic output, according to Lancet Commission, 2018.
  • According to OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) forecasts, the global welfare costs of premature deaths from outdoor air pollution may be around $25 trillion in 2060.
  • Pollution disproportionately affects the poor and vulnerable. Nearly 92 per cent of pollution-related deaths occur in low and middle-income countries. Globally, diseases caused by pollution are more prevalent among the minorities and marginalised, according to Lancet Commission, 2018.
  • If no action is taken, population exposure to PM 2.5 is likely to increase by more than 40 per cent by 2050, according to the HEI study.
  • According to a study conducted by Shakti Foundation across 11 cities in India, a majority (54 per cent) of respondents were not satisfied with the government’s action to control air pollution. Over 60 per cent wanted a ban on plastic and termination of open burning of garbage.

Cover Photo Credit: Prabhjot Gill

A farmer in rural Amritsar (Punjab) burning crop residue

Air Pollution: Some Facts

Volume: XXXVII
January-March, 2018