More Reports from AQLI

India’s ‘War Against Pollution’: An Opportunity for Longer Lives”

In 2019, India declared a “war against pollution” and launched its National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), signaling its desire to reduce particulate air pollution—the greatest threat to human health on the planet. The Programme, which aims to reduce particulate pollution by 20-30 percent nationally, will be implemented over the next five years. If successful in meeting its goals and sustaining the reduced pollution levels, the NCAP would produce substantial benefits, extending the life expectancy of the average Indian by about 1.3 years. People breathing the most polluted air—namely those in Delhi and parts of Uttar Pradesh—could live up to 3 years longer. Further, the NCAP highlighted 102 cities containing about one quarter of the country’s population that fell short of India’s air standards. If all the cities permanently reduced particulate pollution by 25 percent (the midpoint of NCAP’s goal), their residents would gain 1.4 years. Though achieving the NCAP’s goals would be an important step toward reversing India’s 69 percent increase in fine particulate pollution (PM2.5) concentrations since 1998, India could achieve further gains in life expectancy for its citizens through additional pollution reductions that bring the country into compliance with its own official air quality standards or the World Health Organization’s (WHO) guidelines for PM2.5 concentrations.
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Introducing the Air Quality Life Index

The Air Quality Life Index, or AQLI, represents a completely novel advancement in measuring and communicating the health risks posed by particulate matter air pollution. This is because the AQLI converts particulate air pollution into perhaps the most important metric that exists: its impact on life expectancy. The AQLI reveals that, averaged across all women, men, and children globally, particulate matter air pollution cuts global life expectancy short by nearly 2 years relative to what they would be if particulate concentrations everywhere were at the level deemed safe by the World Health Organization (WHO). This life expectancy loss makes particulate pollution more devastating than communicable diseases like tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, behavioral killers like cigarette smoking, and even war.
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Is China Winning its War on Pollution?

Four years after Chinese Premier Li Keqiang declared a “war against pollution,” has the government delivered on its promises to improve air quality? Using daily data from more than 200 monitors across the country from 2013 to 2017, we find that China’s most populated areas have experienced remarkable improvements in air quality, ranging from 21 to 42 percent, with most meeting or exceeding the goals outlined in their National Air Quality Action Plan. If these reductions in pollution are sustained, the average Chinese citizen would see their life expectancy increase by 2.4 years relative to 2013. Although China faces a long road ahead to reach national and international air quality standards, these results suggest the country is winning its war on pollution.
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