New Delhi: Outdoor air pollution has been listed as one of the top ten killers in the world, with 65 percent of the air pollution deaths occurring in Asia and close to quarter of this in India, according to a study released Friday.
Global Burden of Disease (GBD) count, a global initiative involving the WHO, tracks deaths and illnesses from all causes across the world.
According to the study, in south Asia, outdoor air pollution is ranked as the sixth-most dangerous killer. It is now three places behind indoor air pollution, which is the second-highest killer in this region.
Air pollution causes 3.2 million deaths worldwide.
This has increased from 800,000, last estimated by GBD in the year 2000 - a whopping 300 percent increase.
"In the year 2000, GBD assessments had reported a much smaller air pollution-related burden of disease. The new estimates of particulate air pollution are based on ground-level measurements, satellite remote sensing and global chemical transport models to capture population exposure," it said.
In South Asia, air pollution has been ranked just below blood pressure, tobacco smoking, indoor air pollution, poor intake of fruits and diabetes, as the cause of the largest number of deaths.
The new GBD estimates over 2.1 million premature deaths and 52 million years of healthy life lost in 2010 due to fine particle air pollution in Asia, which is two-thirds of the burden worldwide.
Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) expressed deep shock at the findings and called for making national ambient air quality standards legally binding on each region.
"The GBD count on air pollution and its health risks must trigger urgent, aggressive and most stringent action in India to curb air pollution to protect public health. India cannot afford to enhance health risk at a time when much of its economic growth and motorisation are yet to happen," said Anumita Roychowdhury, CSE`s air pollution unit head.
The latest GBD results have been produced by a rigorous scientific process involving over 450 global experts and partner institutions including the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, the World Health Organisation, the University of Queensland, Australia, Johns Hopkins University, Harvard University and the Health Effects Institute.