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Air pollution shortening lifespan in India by three years, study finds

Complying with air quality standards could extend life for millions.

By
Thor Benson
Indians walks through courtyard of the Jame Masjid or Grand Mosque in New Delhi, India on March 9, 2009. UPI/Mohammad Kheirkhah
Indians walks through courtyard of the Jame Masjid or Grand Mosque in New Delhi, India on March 9, 2009. UPI/Mohammad Kheirkhah | License Photo

CHICAGO, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- A new study has found poor air quality in India is shortening people's lives by about three years.

India has over 1.2 billion people, and the study found about half live in places where the air quality is below India's safety standards. The researchers, from Yale, Harvard and the University of Chicago, believe the lifespan of those people could be extended by 3.2 years if air quality standards were met.

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"India's focus is necessarily on growth. However, for too long, the conventional definition of growth has ignored the health consequences of air pollution," said Michael Greenstone, an author of the study and director of the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC). "This study demonstrates that air pollution retards growth by causing people to die prematurely. Other studies have also shown that air pollution reduces productivity at work, increases the incidence of sick days, and raises health care expenses that could be devoted to other goods."

A previous study by the World Health Organization published last year found New Delhi, India's capital, had the most polluted air in the world. Furthermore, it found India has 13 of the world's 20 worst cities for air quality.

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The new study was published in Economic & Political Weekly.

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