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Public health in India a casualty of air pollution

Air pollution exposures in India constitute a major public health threat. To prevent a full-blown national health crisis, our policy conversations and actions need to first acknowledge, and then respond to, the enormity and severity of the problem.

A significant part of the Indian population is exposed to air quality that is considerably worse than nationally and internationally accepted guidelines. What is the nature of this health crisis, how much do we know, and is there enough evidence to act? We need to engage with these questions as we demand action against air pollution.

Impact of air pollution on health in India are severe and prevalent across all states and socio-demographic groups. These impacts, whether estimated through mortality or morbidity rates, or through measuring reduction in life expectancy – are all growing at a significant rate. As a risk factor for disease burden in the country, air pollution is second only to child and maternal malnutrition, and ranks higher than unsafe water and unsanitary conditions – conditions we have long associated with poor health in India.