India’s air shortens the lives of millions

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

traffic and stoves
India’s pollution is caused by traffic and open fires from old-fashioned stoves.

As manmade pollution fills the skies, scientists believe it’s causing global warming, trapping the Sun’s rays in the Earth like a blanket. Our planet isn’t the only one getting sick, either, since the World Health Organization said that 1 in 8 human lives were snuffed out by air pollution in 2012. Last year, a study found 13 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities are in India, and researchers recently revealed half of India’s citizens lose about 3.2 years of life from air pollution.

Since India is the second most populated country in the world (behind China), with over 1.25 billion people, that means about 660 million Indians may lose 2.1 billion life years from air pollution! This discovery was made by researchers from the University of Chicago, Yale, and Harvard, and the pollution is mainly caused by open fires fueled by coal and wood.

While many of America’s citizens enjoy electricity and clean ovens, about 3 billion people in the world have to rely on smoke-belching stoves. Almost two-thirds of India’s citizens use these stoves, and when the toxic air joins the smog from other sources like car traffic, it creates nasty brown clouds and poisonous skies.

“Reducing pollution in these areas to achieve the standard would, we estimate, increase life expectancy for these Indians by 3.2 years on average for a total of 2.1 billion life years,” observes the study, so there’s definitely hope.

Featured image courtesy of Tawheed Manzoor on Flickr. Image of pollution sources courtesy of தகவலுழவன் on Wikipedia.