‘627,000 die every year of particulate air pollution’

New Delhi : Over 627,000 people die prematurely and 18 million healthy life years are lost every year due to particulate air pollution — the microscopic solid and liquid matter suspended in the Earth’s atmosphere, an environmentalist said here on Wednesday.

The experts said the situation was of a great concern because carbon — the dark core of particulate matter — was contributing to the health burden and even after decades of air quality management, particulate air pollution has remained among the top 10 killers globally.

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“It has been found that black carbon — which is a product of incomplete combustion and already a deadly local pollutant — is contributing to the high health burden,” said Sunita Narain, director general of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).

She was speaking at the Anil Agarwal Dialogue held in memory of CSE’s founder Anil Agarwal in the national capital.

The two-day event, that began on Wednesday, had discussions on black carbon and its impact of the climate.

“Black carbon is local air pollutant and has global impact as well. The issue to deliberate will be the emerging science on local-global pollutants and also to understand the national road maps for intervention in key areas of mitigation and to see if these are sufficient or transformational approaches are needed,” Narain said.

Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director CSE, said high black carbon emitted from increase in number of diesel vehicles, use of high-sulfur diesel, out-dated technology of vehicles and expansion in road-based freight traffic have added to local health risks as well as the global climate risk.

“Black carbon is also co-emitted with a range of other toxic and warming gases. This link between local and global impacts of diesel particulates now changes the geo-politics around diesel emission mitigation, as the policies and action on diesel transport vary widely across vehicle-producing and vehicle-importing nations in developed and developing countries,” said Roychowdhury.

Some of the other key issues to be discussed during the event are science of short-lived climate pollutants, and local and global impact of diesel emissions, brick kilns and cook stoves.

“There is a need for the world to find approaches for affordable access to sustainable mobility and clean technology, cleaner techniques for building material and energy access for all, as without this, we will not be able to move forward,” Roychowdhury said.