Pollution has been taking its toll across India. A recent study predicts that high levels of environmental pollutants and dust in northern India are expected to reduce the region’s capacity to generate solar power by around 17%. But India should also pay heed to another global study that shows that a slight rise in air pollution levels shorten a life by about a decade.
A new study in the journal Ecological Indicators shows that an average increase of 10 micrograms of pollution particles in the air per cubic meter cuts a persons’ life expectancy by between nine and 11 years. Earlier research indicated that the exposure to the same amount of pollution cut life expectancy by one or two years – more than previously thought.
The authors from Aarhus University in Denmark analysed data of 100,000 people with an age distribution corresponding to the current European Union population, which showed estimated mortality rates by age. They determined how many people in each age group would survive the same number of years as their life expectancy and then simulated the effect of long-term air pollution exposure on mortality. The study found that the average age of an air pollution victim is 78.9 years, about 10 years less than the life expectancy of someone not exposed to air pollution.
The data, the authors say, can be used to find a more robust and consistent way of determining the economic benefit of reducing air pollution, especially by reducing the use of fossil fuels.
For example, because of the different methodologies used, the cost of air pollution related to fossil fuel consumption is estimated to be three times higher in the United States than in the European Union.
“The existing literature is ambiguous and there are differences in the approaches adopted in EU and USA for how to account for such costs,” said Mikael Skou Andersen, lead author of the study. “People are willing to pay a price to reduce risks for dying prematurely, provided we have an understanding of the implications and magnitudes of such risks.”