December 4, 2023

New AQLI Leadership Underscores Mission to Strengthen Data-Driven Air Quality Policy

Tanushree Ganguly, whose career has focused on supporting local communities to reduce air pollution, is the new director for the Air Quality Life Index as Christa Hasenkopf’s role expands.

As the Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) continues its commitment to bringing localized information on air pollution’s health impacts to communities around the world, Tanushree Ganguly joins as the new director of the initiative. Ganguly brings a deep background in planning and implementing national-level air quality policies at local levels. AQLI’s previous director, Christa Hasenkopf, will continue to oversee the initiative, but is taking on an expanded role to lead other air quality initiatives within EPIC. This includes an effort to bring more high-quality air pollution monitoring and data access to communities where it is missing.

“We are thrilled to have Tanushree join our growing team at AQLI,” says AQLI founder Michael Greenstone, the Milton Friedman Distinguished Service Professor in Economics and director of EPIC. “Tanushree’s expertise in implementing localized air quality plans and policies along with Christa’s deep understanding of air quality data strengthens our mission to provide data for change. Through their collaboration, governments and citizens around the world will be given the tools and knowledge needed to make informed, actionable choices to combat air pollution – which causes the average person on the planet’s life to be shortened by 2.3 years.”

Prior to her position with AQLI, Ganguly, who is based in New Delhi, led the Clean Air Programme at India’s Council on Energy, Environment and Water, and conducted research on the foundations of India’s National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) at the Centre for Science and Environment. Through her leadership, Ganguly has supported multiple states and municipalities in charting pathways towards meeting their clean air ambitions in one of the world’s most polluted countries.

“Tanushree is such an exciting addition to our team. She brings a wealth of insights into global and local air pollution landscapes and will help us propel AQLI’s impact into new directions across the world, says Christa Hasenkopf, director of Clean Air Programs at EPIC.

Ganguly began her career at Illingworth and Rodkin Inc, an air quality and acoustic consulting firm. She holds a graduate degree in Environmental Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, and an undergraduate degree in civil engineering from Nirma University, Ahmedabad, India.

“Air pollution continues to be one of the world’s greatest risks to human health,” says Ganguly. “By quantifying the impact of air pollution on human life expectancy, AQLI data has played a significant role in influencing public opinion and decision-making on air pollution. I’m delighted to help expand upon AQLI’s impact through partnerships, providing open and accessible air pollution data, and supporting implementation of air pollution policies.”

Since its launch, the AQLI has been used by people in every country globally. Fully available in three languages—English, Mandarin, and Hindi—and with country-specific analyses of top polluters available in five languages, the AQLI is having an impact around the world. The AQLI has been used in briefings with senior government leaders in some of the world’s most polluted countries. In 2019 and 2020, Indian Members of Parliament repeatedly used the AQLI to justify changes to the Indian Air Act, and the data has been used to justify a landmark court ruling in Indonesia that found Jakarta’s government needed to do more to protect its people.

The most recent report, released in August 2023, appeared in over 800 news outlets around the world, including extensive coverage and editorial/opinion content in highly polluted countries. EPIC’s Michael Greenstone and Christa Hasenkopf appeared on BBC TV, radio and podcasts, as well as in interviews with every major wire service, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, and other top outlets. Notably, the report was mentioned by Pakistan’s former Federal Minister for Climate Change & Environment in an op-ed on air pollution, World Health Organization Director of Public Health Maria Neira, the UN Environment Program on International Clean Air Day for Blue Skies, World Economic Forum, World Bank, NY Times columnist David Wallace-Wells, former and current lawmakers, among others.

Recognizing the effect that the AQLI has already had, and its potential to do more, Fast Company named the AQLI as a finalist for its 2019 World Changing Ideas Award. This major annual award elevates brave concepts and innovative solutions that make the world better based on their potential for impact.