Over 30 per cent of deaths in India in the year 2018 were caused by air pollution from the burning of fossil fuels, revealed the findings of a study published in Environmental Research, a peer-reviewed journal. Air pollution and higher particulate matter of 2.5 concentrations in the air originating from fossil fuel combustion caused about 2.5 million premature deaths in India in 2018.
The study was conducted by researchers from Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, Harvard University, University of Birmingham and the University of Leicester.
Exposure to particulate matter from fossil fuel emissions was accountable for 18 per cent of the total global deaths in 2018. According to the report, more than 8 million people are killed every year by the pollution from burning fossil fuels like coal and diesel.
The study made use of the chemical transport model GEOS-Chem to quantify the number of premature deaths and to distinguish between the fossil fuel emissions from human-generated sources including power generation, industry, ships, aircraft, ground transportation, backup generators, kerosene and gas extraction and biological processes like wildfires.
Uttar Pradesh in India had the maximum deaths caused by exposure to fossil fuel fumes with 471,456 additional deaths reported. This was followed by Bihar and West Bengal where similar deaths of 288,821 and 276, 312 people were reported respectively.
One lakh such deaths were also reported in each of these states: Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.
Globally, a total of 10.2 million premature deaths per year is attributable to PM 2.5 generated from the combustion of fossil fuels with countries like China, India, the Eastern United States, Europe and Southeast Asia which have a higher dependence on fossil fuels acting as the major contributors.
If all fossil fuel emissions from human-generated sources can be controlled, the average life expectancy of the global population could be increased by more than one year.
Environment and health experts have long been emphasizing the need for governments to control the use of fossil fuels and check on the emissions caused by it, to prevent such premature deaths.
Policymakers and stakeholders must plan and construct an immediate transition to cleaner and alternative sources of energy so that premature deaths caused by the burning of fossil fuels can be reduced.