According to the Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) 2020 annual report, air pollution has reduced the life expectancy of every man, woman, and child by almost 2 years.
Authors of the report have termed air pollution as the biggest challenge facing human life after smoking, alcohol and drug abuse, unsafe water, road accidents, HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and terrorism.
While scientists around the world are racing towards finding a vaccine for the COVID-19 infection, air pollution will continue to cut short the lives of billions worldwide.
AQLI report states that air pollution levels in China have remained unchanged over the past two decades despite significantly curbing the high levels of particulate matter.
Quality of air in India and Bangladesh is so hazardous that average life expectancy in some cities there has been reduced by almost a decade.
India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal rank among the most polluted countries. These four countries are home to almost a quarter of the global population. 89% population of these countries is living in areas with pollution levels way above the WHO’s recommendations.
The average lifespan in these countries will decrease by 5 years on average as the population there is exposed to pollution levels 44% higher than 20 years ago. Stubble burning coupled with toxic fumes emanating from traffic and power plants will continue to exacerbate the air quality in these countries.
The average life expectancy in Bangladesh has reduced by 6.2 years, India by 5.2 years, Nepal by 4.7 years, and Pakistan by 2.7 years.
Michael Greenstone, the author of the AQLI report, has said that exposure to air pollution is also a key COVID-19 risk factor. Greenstone has demanded the same attention from governments and international organizations to the issue of air pollution as COVID-19.
Though the threat of coronavirus is grave and deserves every bit of the attention it is getting, embracing the seriousness of air pollution with a similar vigor would allow billions of people to lead longer and healthier lives.
Read the report in detail at Air Quality Life Index