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Lancet Report on Pollution and Health- UPSC Current Affairs

May 29, 2022


Upgrade your UPSC Preparation with our Daily dose of Current Affairs. In today's edition, we will discuss Lancet Report on Pollution and Health. Check the topic's relevance from the UPSC CSE point of view.

For Prelims: Pollution and health: A Progress Update, Air Pollution, Lead Pollution, PM 2.5

For Mains: Interlink between pollution and health, Ways to tackle the air pollution

Also read about Quad Summit, a crucial topic from the UPSC exam preparation point of view.

Why in the News?

Recently, the Lancet Commission on pollution and health reported that air pollution was responsible for 16.7 lakh deaths in 2019 or 17.8% of all deaths in India (2019).

Probable Question

Despite its substantial effects on health, societies, and economies, pollution prevention is largely overlooked in the international development agenda. Comment

Findings of Lancet Planetary Health Report


  • The Lancet Planetary Health Report is alarming for India because India topped the air pollution death toll in 2019.
  • Air pollution was responsible for 16.7 lakh deaths in 2019 or 17.8% of all deaths in India (2019).
  • The majority of the 16.7 lakh air pollution-related deaths in India – 9.8 lakh — were caused by PM2.5 pollution and another 6.1 lakh by household air pollution.
  • It said that in the year 2000, India lost output equivalent to 3.2 per cent of its GDP as a result of pollution.

What does the report say about the pollution in India?

  • The report says that in 93 per cent of India, the amount of pollution remains well above the WHO guidelines.
  • In 2019, India had the largest estimated number of pollution-related deaths, even though some effort has been made to deal with it through the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana program. 
  • India has developed a National Clean Air Program, and in 2019 launched a Commission for Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region. 
  • Unfortunately, according to the report, India does not have a strong centralized administrative system to drive its air pollution control efforts and consequently, improvements in overall air quality have been limited and uneven.
World Air Quality Report 2021:

Greenpeace’s World Air Quality Report 2021, noted New Delhi as the most polluted capital in the world, in terms of PM 2.5. 

PM 2.5 is estimated to cause over 3,000,000 premature deaths.

The report mentions that in 2021, Central and South Asia had some of the world’s worst air quality and were home to 46 of the world’s 50 most polluted cities.

UNEP report on air quality-related deaths:

According to the United Nations Environment Program, 70 percent of global air quality-related deaths occur in Central and South Asia.

In fact, except in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, PM2.5 concentrations increased in Central and South Asian countries in 2021, which negated the quarantine-related improvements in the air quality.


  • Globally, air pollution alone contributes to 66.7 lakh deaths, according to the report, which updates a previous analysis from 2015.
  • Overall, pollution was responsible for an estimated 90 lakh deaths in 2019 (equivalent to one in six deaths worldwide), a number that has remained unchanged since the 2015 analysis.
  • Water pollution was responsible for 1.4 million deaths and lead pollution caused 900,000 premature deaths.
  • Overall, as a result of pollution, 9 million people die prematurely per year.

Watch this video on Economy Topics to focus on for UPSC Preliminary Exam 2022 by Vivek Singh Sir, our Economy faculty:

Factors responsible for the increase in deaths

  • The factors responsible for this increase in death due to modern forms of air pollution include:
    • Rising ambient air pollution, 
    • Rising chemical pollution, 
    • Ageing populations and 
    • Increased numbers of people exposed to pollution.

Pollution and its cost

  • The global cost of fossil fuel air pollution is estimated to be about US $8 billion per day.


  • International organizations and national governments need to continue expanding the focus on pollution as one of the triumvirates of global environmental issues, alongside climate change and biodiversity. 
  • The use of the health dimension as a key driver in policy and investment decisions should be encouraged.
  • Affected countries must focus resources on addressing air pollution, lead pollution, and chemical pollution, which are the key issues in modern pollution.
  • A massive rapid transition to wind and solar energy will reduce ambient air pollution in addition to slowing down climate change.
  • Private and government donors need to allocate funding for pollution management to support HPAP (Health and Pollution Action Plan) prioritization processes, monitoring, and programme implementation.
  • All sectors need to integrate pollution control into plans to address other key threats such as climate, biodiversity, food, and agriculture. 
  • All sectors need to support a stronger stand on pollution in planetary health, One Health, and energy transition work.

International organizations need to establish an SPI (Science Policy Interface) for pollution, similar to those for climate and biodiversity, initially for chemicals, waste, and air pollution.

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