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Delhi’s toxic air killed over 30,000 in just three years, 33 on average died daily in 2016

The report by Praja Foundation also says Delhi had only five ‘good’ AQI days between 2015 and 2018.

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New Delhi: As debate continues over what’s to blame for Delhi’s foul air, a new report has found that 31,671 people could have died in the city as a result of pollution-related illnesses in just three years.

Mumbai-based Praja Foundation, in its report titled ‘The State of Health in Delhi’ which was published Thursday, says 9,799, 11,900 and 9,972 people have died due to respiratory illnesses in the capital city in 2015, 2016 and 2017 respectively. This means, on average, 26 people died every day in 2015, 33 in 2016 and 27 in 2017.

The report also quotes the Central Pollution Control Board and says Delhi had only five ‘good’ AQI days in the past four years, between 2015 and 2018. The average AQI levels in the city have been poor in all these years — 231 in 2015, 255 in 2016 and 227 in both 2017 and 2018.

A Supreme Court-mandated panel had last week declared a public health emergency in the Delhi-NCR region after air quality in the national capital dipped to the hazardous ‘severe plus’ category. All construction activities were also banned until 5 November. The AQI had last Friday had shot up to 582, the ‘severe plus emergency’ category.

Also read: Toxic air adds to India’s woes as economy goes from bad to worse

Rise in respiratory illnesses

For its report, Praja Foundation — which undertakes extensive research and highlights civic issues — included data from a survey conducted in over 25,000 households and from RTI responses by various government agencies. With this data, the report drew a correlation between poor air quality and the number of deaths caused by respiratory diseases.

It said how deaths due to malignant neoplasm (cancerous tumour) of respiratory and intrathoracic organs have seen a steady rise from 502 in 2015 to 551 in 2017. Incidence of respiratory tuberculosis, diseases of upper and lower respiratory tracts has also increased.

Hazardous air quality has also been the reason for increasing instances of lung cancer cases in Delhi. A previous report by ThePrint shows how three out of 10 lung cancer patients in India are non-smokers.

Doctors from leading hospitals in Delhi have also informed that the number of non-smokers suffering from lung cancer has doubled over the years. Increasing exposure to outdoor and indoor air pollutants, apart from passive smoking and genetic cancer, have been blamed for the malaise.

Also read: How air pollution has become a big factor in Indians’ decision to work in Delhi


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