In 2015, 2.5 million of 10.3 million deaths in India due to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are linked to pollution, according to a global study.
Pollution caused nine million deaths or 16% of global mortality–three times more deaths than from Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), tuberculosis, and malaria combined–in 2015, the study, Commission on pollution and health published in the Lancet, found.
Rising air pollution in a metropolis such as Delhi and smaller cities such as Ranchi are leading to rising incidences of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cancer, diabetes and other pollution-related ailments, the study found.
Pollution was in focus again when a December 2017 test cricket match between Sri Lanka and India had to be halted several times as Sri Lankan players complained of breathing difficulties while some also vomited on the ground due to “poor air quality” in Delhi.
The increasing link between pollution and NCDs
As many as 27% of deaths in India were caused due to pollution, making it the country with the highest number of pollution-related deaths, followed by China, according to the Lancet study.
Low- and middle-income groups are the worst affected by pollution; 92% of deaths due to pollution occurred in that income group, IndiaSpend reported on November 14, 2017.
In 1990, NCDs accounted for 30.5% of disease burden, which has risen to 55.4% in 2016, according to the 2017 report India: Health Of Nation’s States, by the Indian Council of Medical Research.
Diabetes and heart diseases are the leading causes for India’s increasing disability-adjusted life years (DALYs)–a measure of overall disease burden, expressed as the number of years lost due to ill-health, disability or early death–with diabetes registering an 80% increase and heart diseases 34% since 1990.