Diseases associated with outdoor and household air pollution may have cost India as much as 8.5 per cent of its gross domestic product or GDP in 2013, according to a global study on air pollution by the World Bank.
The study estimated the economic cost of air pollution, taking into account deaths and diseases associated with both outdoor and household air pollution, and estimating losses in terms of labour output, as well as "welfare losses" to evaluate the costs and benefits of environmental regulations that lead to an aggregate cost of premature deaths.
India incurred the highest losses in the world in terms of labour output caused by air pollution in 2013, said the study. In 2013, India's labour losses due to air pollution stood at about $55.39 billion (2011 PPP-adjusted), or about 0.84 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP). India was followed by China at $44.57 billion, or about 0.28 per cent of its GDP.
Globally, an estimated 5.5 million lives were lost in 2013 due to diseases caused by air pollution. While pollution-related deaths strike primarily young children and the elderly, premature deaths also resulted in lost labour income for working-age men and women. India saw 1.4 million deaths in 2013 compared to about 1 million deaths in 1990.
In terms of welfare losses, India ranked the second highest in the world at about $505.1 billion or about 7.69 per cent of GDP in 2013, and trailed China, which saw about $1.5 trillion in welfare losses in 2013, or about 9.9 per cent of its GDP.
Globally, in 2013, outside and household air pollution cost the world's economy about $5.11 trillion in welfare losses. In 1990, the world saw about $2.6 trillion in welfare losses.
The study noted that since the 1990s, exposure to outside air pollution has grown in most countries with the exception of high-income countries, with the heavily populated, fastest-growing regions in South Asia, East Asia and the Pacific, seeing the greatest increase.
According to the study, losses were largely caused by ambient air pollution from fine particulate matter (PM2.5).
Air pollution is the fourth biggest risk factor for death in the world, after metabolic risks, dietary risks and tobacco smoke.