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Poor air quality cuts life short in Goa: US study

ABDUL WAHAB KHAN | NT 

Panaji

A study has found that Goans are losing 1.5 years of their life expectancy due to the government’s failure to meet air quality standards of 10 micrograms per cubic metre (μg/m3) for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) stipulated by the World Health Organisation.

The deduction is based on the global air quality study carried out by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago. 

Particulate matter (PM) refers to solid and liquid particles – soot, smoke, dust, and others – that are suspended in the air. When the air is polluted with PM, these particles enter the respiratory system along with the oxygen that the body needs.

The condition of air quality in Goa remains a cause for concern as the analysis based on the Air Quality Life Index developed by the University of Chicago shows a 9.3 per cent increase in particulate pollution in the state from 1998 to 2016, causing a reduction in life expectancy for the average person of about 1.5 years.

Goa is home to about 15.11 lakh population.  

The analysis has said the average life expectancy of the residents of North Goa would have been six months longer in 1998 if air quality met the WHO guidelines. By 2016, this had increased to 1.6 years due to a 9.7 μg/m3 increase in average particulate pollution concentrations.

Similarly in South Goa average life expectancy of the residents could have been nine months longer if annual WHO mean limit of PM2.5 had been met between 1998 and 2016.

The AQLI translates long-term exposure to particulate pollution concentrations into their impact on life expectancy. The AQLI’s core finding is that sustained exposure to an additional 10 micrograms per cubic metre (μg/m3) of PM2.5 reduces life expectancy by 0.98 years.  

The study has also found that residents of Goa on an average could have gained 1.3 years of life if the air

quality matched WHO standards, but there was poor quality of air.

In 1998, according to the report, the loss of life expectancy for citizens was six months. But After 18 years the residents are losing 1.5 years of life expectancy.

This means that Goans could expect to live 1.5 years longer if the state permanently reduces concentrations.

As per 2011 census, the average lifespan was 72 for females and 68 for males in Goa.

The annual air quality data compiled by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago has shown that the PM2.5 value in 1998 of Goa was 15.76 micrograms per cubic metre (μg/m3) above the WHO standard which gradually increased year on year; in 2016 it doubled and reached at 25.12μg/m3; in 2015 it was 27.03 μg/m3, and in 2014 it was 23.74 μg/m3.

The researchers have also found that if India succeeds in meeting its goals under the National Clean Air Programme and achieves sustained pollution reduction of about 25 per cent then this could help extend the life expectancy of an average Indian by 1.3 years.

The NCAP has a target of 20 per cent to 30 per cent reduction in PM 2.5 (fine, respirable pollution particles) and PM 10 (coarse pollution particles) concentration in 102 non-attainment cities by 2024 over 2017 levels.

The non-attainment cities are those cities which did not meet the annual PM 10 national standard from 2011 to 2015.

The report has said the life expectancies are cut short for many reasons, including illnesses such as smoking, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS – some of the most deadly culprits – but the particulate air pollution cuts life expectancy shorter than all of these causes.

The report has also said the impact of particulate pollution on life expectancy is comparable to that of smoking, twice that of alcohol and drug use, three times that of unsafe water, five times that of HIV/AIDS, and 29 times that of conflict and terrorism.

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