Growth in industrial production and urban transport has led to deterioration in air quality in Indian cities and
industrial clusters. There is an urgent need to address the effects of air pollution on the global climate as well as on human health, particularly among vulnerable populations such as the urban poor, women, children and aged population.
Air pollutants including particulate matter (PM), sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO), and ozone (O3) often exceed the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) in India. In spite of several initiatives in the country, air pollution has remained a significant problem.
The correlation between rising levels of air pollution and deteriorating health of the exposed population has been long studied, researched and established in the literature. Studies have established that long term exposure to air pollution have caused people to die prematurely in areas more affected by air pollution than in less polluted areas.The effects on health are in the form of rising rates of cardiovascular diseases (CAD/CVD) and strokes, lung cancer, exacerbation of COPD, hospital admissions and ER visits for heart and lung disease, decreased lung function, low birth weight and also premature death. Health experts highlight that air pollution affects 100% of the population from unborn babies to the very elderly.
In children, pollution-related disease can cause absenteeism in schools. In addition, pollution also impacts liveability of cities thereby affecting their abilities to attract top talent to work in these cities. Air pollution also accentuates gender inequality, by increasing burden of disease; it impacts women disproportionately, given their poorer access to healthcare than men.
Solutions to the problem of severely declining air quality in the Indian cities calls for a multi-prolonged approach. An approach which is a mix of right policy action, focused on established and proven technology implementations (including international), coupled with right capacity building, awareness and training programmes focused on more urgent sectors is needed. While Government of India has been taking several steps in the direction of improving the air quality, but given the severity of the issue, more hands to help will make implementation easier and faster.
International Development Centre Foundation