In 2016, exposure to fine particulate matter prematurely killed 14,800 people in Delhi and a total of 42,200 people in the metros cities, says a new study.
Conducted by researchers in India, Thailand and Singapore, the study has found that PM2.5 significantly deteriorates people's health and can result in cardiovascular diseases, lung diseases, cancer and premature deaths.
In India, Delhi saw the highest number of deaths in 2016 from diseases related to air pollution, according to the study, followed by Mumbai and Kolkata.
The study conducted by Kamal Jyoti Maji, Mohit Arora and Anil Kumar Dikshit conducted in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore and Chennai says:
In Indian megacities, the premature deaths were 14.8, 10.5, 7.3, 4.8 and 4.8 thousand in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore and Chennai respectively. Total mortality in Dhaka and Karachi was estimated to be 9.1 and 7.7 thousand.
The study says that current policies that are in place are not enough to protect people from exposure to PM2.5.
Warning against further deaths related to air pollution, the study says, "Lack of stringent policies and absence of immediate targets will cause heavy mortalities in megacities of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan."
The study was also conducted in Beijing and Shanghai and other cities of China.
It is estimated that in 2016, PM2.5-related mortality in Shanghai, Beijing, Chongqing, Tianjin, Guangzhou and Shenzhen was 17.6, 18.2, 10.4, 9.8, 7.6 and 6.4 thousand respectively.
Among all the "megacities" where the study was conducted, Beijing reported that highest number of deaths relating to air pollution, and Delhi had the second highest number of deaths.
The study says that while China has taken some steps to curb air pollution, there was a pressing need for policies on air pollution in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Maji, a co-author of the paper, told Hindustan Times, "Chinese cities report higher mortality numbers, despite lower pollution levels than cities like Delhi because the population in their cities is more. Also there is a higher burden of elderly people who are disproportionately affected by air pollution exposure."
The newspaper reported that study accepted for publication in Elsevier's Process Safety and Environmental Protection journal.