Air Pollution In India Caused Over 1.16L Infant Deaths In 2019: Study

Keep your mask on always to save yourself not just from the novel virus COVID-19 but also from another self-created danger called Air Pollution. 

We have been cursing and going crazy about how COVID has contributed to the destruction of the human population whereas, we have been forgetting about the things we have created for self-sabotage.

According to a disturbing new report, 21 percent of all neonatal deaths in India are caused due to air pollution. 

In the first-ever comprehensive analysis of air pollution, it is found that the global impact is on newborns. The outdoor and household polluted particles contributed to the deaths of more than 1,16,000 Indian infants in their first month of life in 2019. 

The report, State of Global Air 2020, said more than half of these deaths were associated with outdoor PM2.5 and others were linked to the usage of solid fuels such as charcoal, wood, and animal dung for cooking.

However, the study also found progress in reducing household air pollution exposures but levels stagnant for outdoor PM2.5.

Most Affected Countries

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  • South Asian countries like India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal were among the top 10 countries with the highest PM 2.5 levels in 2019. 
  • Shift to solid fuels has helped, with 50 million fewer people exposed to household air pollution. 

The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana Household LPG program and other schemes have helped to dramatically expand access to clean energy, especially for rural households.

Air Pollution In India 

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As per the report, 100% of Indians live in the area where the PM level is above 2.5. Air pollution is the foremost factor causing deaths in India. Household air pollution has been reduced from 73% (in 2010) to 61% (in 2019)

Worldwide Deaths Due To Air Pollution 


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As per the report, the total worldwide deaths are 6.7M in which India contributes to 1.6M, Bangladesh contributes to 173,500, Pakistan contributes to 235,700, and Nepal contributes to 42,100 deaths. 

Air Pollution and Neonatal Mortality Rate

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“An infant’s health is critical to the future of every society, and this newest evidence suggests an especially high risk for infants born in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa,” said HEI President Dan Greenbaum.

“Although there has been slow and steady reduction in household reliance on poor-quality fuels, the air pollution from these fuels continues to be a key factor in the deaths of these youngest infants,” he added.

As per the report, the worldwide neonatal deaths in 2019 were 476,000 of which 2.1 million deaths were in South Asia. Of these, 173,500 deaths occurred in Bangladesh, 1.67 million in India, 235,700 in Pakistan, 42,100 in Nepal.

India is the second-highest in infant mortality rate contributes 21% of the total deaths.

  • Global: 20% of all neonatal deaths (that’s 476,000; 64% attributable to household air pollution)
  • Bangladesh: 20% of all neonatal deaths (10,500; 62% attributable to household air pollution)
  • India: 21% of all neonatal deaths (116,000; 46% attributable to household air pollution)
  • Pakistan: 20% of all neonatal deaths (56,500; 56% attributable to household air pollution)
  • Nepal: 22% of all neonatal deaths (2,550; 60% attributable to household air pollution)


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More recently, the National Clean Air Programme has pushed action on major air pollution sources in cities and states around the country.

This report comes as Covid-19, a disease for which people with heart and lung disease are particularly at risk of infection and death, has claimed more than 110,000 lives in India. Although the full links between air pollution and Covid-19 are not yet known, there is clear evidence linking air pollution and increased heart and lung disease creating a growing concern that exposures to high levels of air pollution, during winter months in South Asian countries and East Asia, could exacerbate the effects of Covid-19.


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