India saw 2.1 million deaths from air pollution in 2021, 169,000-plus kids

A new report by the HEI in partnership with Unicef should ring warning bells and warrants urgent action from governments

In 2021, the CJI called for a lockdown in Delhi over air pollution (file photo)
In 2021, the CJI called for a lockdown in Delhi over air pollution (file photo)


Air pollution contributed to 8.1 million deaths worldwide in 2021, with India and China recording 2.1 million and 2.3 million such fatalities, respectively — and totalling over half the global casualties between them — according to a report released on Wednesday, 19 June.

Published by the Health Effects Institute (HEI), an independent US-based research organisation, in partnership with UNICEF, the report stated that air pollution contributed to the deaths of 169,400 children in India under the age of five in 2021.

Nigeria followed with 1,14,100 child deaths, Pakistan with 68,100, Ethiopia with 31,100 and Bangladesh with 19,100.

The report also said that air pollution was the leading risk factor for deaths in South Asia, followed by high blood pressure, poor diet and tobacco.

The report noted, '2021 saw more deaths linked to air pollution than were estimated for any previous year. With populations over 1 billion each, India (2.1 million deaths) and China (2.3 million deaths) together account for 54 percent of the total global disease burden.'

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