Guru Gyan
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Guru Gyan

Air Pollution Is Toxic For The Economy Too

Pollution is slowly killing the planet but the economies as well. So, how did we get here?

Believe it or not, air pollution and Gross Domestic Product are connected.
*GDP is one of the most common indicators used to track the health of a nation’s economy.

As per a study by the Centre for Research on Environment and Clean Air (CREA), IQAir Air Visual and Greenpeace Southeast Asia, health damage from air pollution caused between 0.4% and 6% of annual GDP in the world’s leading cities for the first six months of this year. The report also said that the estimated losses were between 4.1% and 6.6% for Indian cities from the beginning of 2020 until the first week of September.

And all this wouldn’t happen if we had clean air. Cleaner air improves our health because when you have good air quality, you will spend less amount on air pollution-related illnesses, will be more productive and miss a few work or school days.

These numbers are scary, especially because the global economy is already struggling with the pandemic. And now, the pollution adds to the list too.

India & The Effects

Out of all the cities in India, New Delhi was affected the most, with its economic cost of air pollution pegged at 6.6% of its annual GDP. The report also cites eight cities such as Bengaluru, Raichur, Belgaum, Tumkuru, Kolar, Bijapur, Hubli, Dharwad and Bagalkote in Karnataka that are heavily polluted. Also, in Tamilnadu, cities such as Trichy, Thoothukudi, Madurai and Chennai are heavily polluted.

On The Global Front

Another study by CBI Economics on behalf of the Clean Air Fund said that reducing air pollution could boost the UK economy by £1.6 billion a year. The report says that improving air pollution targets in line with WHO guidelines could prevent 17,000 premature deaths every single year. The economy could be boosted by lowering premature deaths, sickness absence and decreased productivity at work. If the country meets the WHO’s guidelines, a loss of 3 million working days could be prevented every year.

Another study released by CREA said that the air pollutants’ levels in China have surged back to last year’s levels after dropping when the government imposed strict lockdown measures during the pandemic. The regions with factory clusters reported huge increases in nitrogen dioxide emissions. In spite of recent efforts to enhance air quality and boost energy from renewable sources, China has some of the worst air quality in the world. China is also one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases.

And this is just the example of two major economies. If we dug deep, we would see evidence of air pollution affecting the lives as well as the economies all around the world.

An Ally To Covid-19?

An article by Hindustan Times says, even though direct evidence of the impact of air pollution on Covid-19 is limited, and more time will be required to conduct proper studies, evidence from the SARS epidemic in 2003 showed a link between air pollution and increased mortality.

Evidence from several countries, including studies from India, showed consistent associations between both short-term exposure to air pollution and hospitalisation for pneumonia infections (in children) and between long-term exposure and several types of respiratory infections in children.

In conclusion, air pollution is a huge problem, which has been lingering in the world for a while. It affects people and slows economic growth. Also, the government should act now and implement more measures to handle air pollution because our future generation’s well being depends on it!

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