Indians would have lived 4.3 years longer if the 2016 air quality met the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) annual safe air quality guideline of 10 micrograms per cubic metre, according to a report that uses satellite measured PM 2.5 concentration trends.

Particulate pollution reduces average life expectancy by 1.8 years globally, making it the “greatest global threat to human health, said the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago report. In comparison, smoking lowers global average life expectancy by 1.6 years, alcohol and drugs reduce life expectancy by 11 months; unsafe water and sanitation by 7 months; HIV/AIDS by four months, and conflict and terrorism take off 22 days.

India is second to Nepal, which recorded the highest PM 2.5 concentration globally in 2016, and a consequent decline of 4.4 years in life expectancy, said a report on the effect of air pollution on life expectancy in different parts of the world.

In comparison, life expectancy in China was cut short by 2.9 years less and by 0.1 years in the US. China’s particulate pollution declined by 12% between 2013 and 2016, resulting in a life expectancy increasing by 0.5 years, while reductions since 1970 led to US residents living 1.5 years longer.

In many districts, air pollution levels have more than doubled since 1998, with districts in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Bihar showing a steep rise in PM 2.5 concentrations between 2014 to 2016. Over the past two decades, PM 2.5 concentrations increased by 69% across the country….