Outdoor air pollution has become the fifth largest killer in India after high blood pressure, indoor air pollution, tobacco smoking and poor nutrition, according to a Global Burden of Disease (GBD) report.
The report says that about 620,000 premature deaths occur in India from air pollution-related diseases. It also highlights that annual premature deaths caused by particulate air pollution have increased by six times since 2000 and accounts for one fifth of global deaths.
The air pollution-induced premature deaths are caused by respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.
These diseases include stroke (25.48%), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (17.32%), ischemic heart disease (48.6%), lower respiratory infections (6.4%), and trachea, bronchus and lung cancer (2.02%).
India shows the greatest impacts of outdoor air pollution.
"This is a shocking and deeply disturbing news. This calls for urgent and aggressive action to protect public health," said Sunita Narain, director general, CSE.
The India and South Asia-specific findings were released Wednesday jointly by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), Indian Council of Medical Research and the US-based Health Effects Institute. The report came out in December last year.
Globally, air pollution-related diseases cause 3.2 million deaths every year. This has increased from 800,000, last estimated by GBD in the year 2000 - a whopping 300% increase. About 74 million healthy life years are lost annually.
Air pollution has been ranked as one of the top 10 killers in the world by GBD. It is the sixth most dangerous killer in South Asia.