Worldwide, air pollution contributed to almost five million deaths from stroke, heart attack, diabetes, lung cancer and chronic lung disease in 2017.
Exposure to indoor and outdoor air pollution is nearly as risky as smoking, reducing life expectancy by an average of 20 months, according to a major study. And it only rivals smoking.
The report found China and India together were responsible for over half of the total global attributable deaths, with each country facing over 1.2 million deaths from air pollution in 2017.
The State of Global Air 2018 report estimated that if air pollution levels were brought within the United Nations health body's guidelines, Nepal's average life expectancy would increase by 4.4 years.
Across the world, air pollution is responsible for more deaths than many better known risk factors such as malnutrition, alcohol use and physical inactivity, states the report.
A recent analysis by HEI found that major particulate matter sources in India include household burning of solid fuels; dust from construction, roads and other activities; industrial and power plant burning of coal; brick production; transportation; and diesel-powered equipment.
The study noted India's steps to curb household air pollution. Sixty per cent of the population or about 80 crore people are exposed to household pollution in India, while the Chinese figure is 32 per cent and the global average 47 per cent.
The report also confirms what the new life expectancy is around the world, with Canadians now losing a quarter-of-a-year due to poor air quality.
"These and future initiatives have the potential, if fully implemented as part of a sustained commitment to air quality, to result in significant health benefits in coming years", he was quoting as saying by The Hindu.
In March 2019, Greenpeace in its report on air pollution highlighted that out of 20 most polluted cities in the world, 18 are in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, while Beijing, once among the most polluted cities in the world, ranked 122nd in the list of most polluted cities in 2018.
"In 2017, annual PM2.5 exposures were highest in South Asia, where Nepal [100 μg/m3], India [91μg/m3], Bangladesh [61 μg/m3], and Pakistan [58 μg/m3] had the highest exposures", it said.
Broadly, this disparity between less and more developed countries on this form of pollution is seen across the world, with developing countries suffering PM2.5 exposures that are four to five times those of more-developed countries. Air pollution lowers insulin sensitivity, contributing to diabetes. "The question which remains to be answered is whether there is enough political will to aggressively fight the health emergency India faces today and move away from polluting fuels and practices of the past?"
An average Indian loses two years and six months in life expectancy because of air pollution - nearly 10 months more than the global average.