China has bent the curve on air pollution while India continues to lag leading to an average Indian citizen losing around 5.3 years of life expectancy.

In comparison, an average Chinese citizen has seen an improvement — from 4.7 years of life expectancy being lost in 2013 to 2.5 now, an improvement of 2.2 years, made possible by effective policies to curb air pollution, a new analysis of data till 2021 has revealed.

Without China’s steep decline in pollution, the global average pollution would have slightly increased from 2013 (base year selected by researchers) to 2021, the annual Air Quality Life Index report of the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC) said in a report on Tuesday.

Of all the countries in the world, India faces the greatest health burden from air pollution due to the large number of people its high particulate pollution concentrations affect. Since 2013, 59.1% of the world’s increase in pollution has come from India, the report which is mainly based on satellite-derived PM2.5 data said.

According to PM2.5 data from 2021, pollution in India has increased from 56.2 micrograms per cubic metres(µg/m3) in 2020 to 58.7µg/m3 in 2021—more than 10 times the WHO guideline of 5µg/m3.

The most polluted region in India are the northern plains or the Indo-Gangetic Plains that support 38.9% of India’s population.