According to a new report published in the medical journal Lancet, five lakh Indians died in 2015 because of PM2.5 which are the particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 microns or less. Pollutant PM2.5 comprises of pollution in the indoor air or emanating from coal power plants and transport. PM2.5 is also produced through the burning of solid fuel such as wood, charcoal and animal dung, which is still a common practice in many rural households. PM2.5 is 30 times smaller than the width of the human hair and can easily pass through lungs to enter the bloodstream, unlike pollutant PM10.
The report also said that indoor air pollution caused a total of 1.24 lakh deaths in India in 2015. Indoor air pollution causes deaths linked to pneumonia, stroke, heart disease and lung cancer.
The report also emphasises the need to adopt climate policies that involve the use of clean energies and also help in reducing air pollution. Greenhouse gas emission from sources such as thermal power plants and natural gas power plants are a leading factor reducing air quality. The report said,
“Increased access to clean fuels and clean energy technologies will have the dual benefit of reducing indoor air pollution exposure and cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions through the displacement of fossil fuels.”
According to report, India tripled its energy output since 1980. The contribution of coal in India’s total primary energy supply doubled from 22 percent to 44 percent. India was now the fourth highest emitter of carbon dioxide. The World Meteorological Organisation recently stated that carbon dioxide, which is the primary greenhouse gas, reached its highest levels in three to five million years last year due to a combination of human activities and a strong El Niño event.
China, Bangladesh, India and Indonesia registered the highest number of deaths due to air pollution.