Union Minister of State for Environment and Forest Babul Supriyo on Monday told the Rajya Sabha no conclusive data was available in India to link air pollution to deaths or diseases, The Indian Express reported.

Apart from environment, factors such as food habits, occupational hazards, socioeconomic status, medical history and heredity also impact an individual’s health, Supriyo said. He was replying to a question about the findings of The Lancet Countdown Report 2019, according to which more than five lakh people died in India in 2016 because of air pollution. The report said more than 97,000 of those people died because of exposure to pollutants released due to burning coal.

Supriyo said an analysis of ambient air quality data from 2014 to 2018 showed that most of the cities were “within the national standards with respect to parameters of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide”, PTI reported. “With respect to PM10 and PM2.5, 18 and 12 cities, respectively, showed a decreasing trend,” he added.

According to The Lancet report, climate change would cause average yields of rice and maize to shrink and inflate the crops’ prices. This would cause the malnutrition burden to increase. Climate change will also lead to increase in the outbreak of infectious diarrhoeal and mosquito-borne diseases.

Last year, a report published in The Lancet Planetary Health said air pollution causes more diseases in India than the use of tobacco, and accounts for one in every eight deaths. The study was conducted by the India State-Level Disease Burden Initiative. It said air pollution caused 12.4 lakh deaths in India in 2017, including 6.7 lakh deaths due to outdoor particulate matter air pollution and 4.8 lakh caused by household air pollution.

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