Millions of people in South Asian countries, including Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan could see their lifespan cut short by five years on average because of the increasing levels of air pollution.
That’s according to new data from the Air Quality Life Index (AQLI), which converts particulate air pollution into its impact on life expectancy and suggests nearly a quarter of the global population lives in four countries in South Asia that are among the world’s most polluted.
The research notes citizens in these countries are exposed to pollution levels that are 44% higher than they were two decades ago.
Scientists argue high pollution across Bangladesh makes it the most polluted country in the world, while the most severe pollution is found in northern India, including Delhi and Kolkata.
Findings of the report also demonstrate an estimated 89% of Southeast Asia’s 650 million people live in areas where particulate pollution exceeds the World Health Organisation (WHO) guideline.
Michael Greenstone, Professor in Economics and creator of the AQLI, said: “Though the threat of coronavirus is grave and deserves every bit of the attention it is receiving, embracing the seriousness of air pollution with a similar vigour would allow billions of people around the world to lead longer and healthier lives.”
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