Air pollution claimed approximately 54,000 lives in Delhi in 2020, according to a Greenpeace Southeast Asia analysis of cost to the economy due to air pollution. Six Indian cities — Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and Lucknow — feature in the global analysis.
Globally, approximately 1,60,000 deaths have been attributed to PM 2.5 air pollution in the five most populous cities — Delhi, Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Shanghai and Tokyo.
The damage is “equally worrying” in other Indian cities, said the report, released on Thursday. “An estimated 25,000 avoidable deaths in Mumbai in 2020 have been attributed to air pollution. Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad estimated an approximate 12,000, 11,000, and 11,000 avoidable deaths respectively due to polluted air,” it said.
According to the report, the ‘Cost Estimator’, an online tool that estimates the real-time health impact and economic cost from fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) air pollution in major world cities, was deployed in a collaboration between Greenpeace Southeast Asia, IQAir and the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA). Using real-time ground-level PM 2.5 measurements collated in IQAir’s database, the algorithm applies scientific risk models in combination with population and public health data to estimate the health and economic costs of air pollution exposure.
To show the impact of air pollution-related deaths on the economy, the approach used by Greenpeace is called ‘willingness-to-pay’ — a lost life year or a year lived with disability is converted to money by the amount that people are willing to pay in order to avoid this negative outcome, a release from Greenpeace said. The cost estimator also sustained the estimated air pollution-related economic losses of ₹1,23,65,15,40,000.
“Despite a temporary reprieve in air quality owing to the lockdown, the latest figures from the report underscore the need to act immediately. The need of the hour is to rapidly scale up renewable energy, bring an end to fossil fuel emissions and boost sustainable and accessible transport systems,” said the report
Last July, Greenpeace had said that of the 28 global cities studied, Delhi bore the highest economic cost of air pollution with an estimated loss of 24,000 lives in the first half of 2020 despite a strict COVID-19 lockdown. In Mumbai, air pollution from PM 2.5 and NO2 was responsible for the loss of an estimated 14,000 lives since January 1, 2020.