India’s air the world’s most poisonous says international study

January 30, 2012

India has the world's most toxic air, according to a new study presented at the World Economic Forum currently taking place in Davos, Switzerland.

The international study, led by Yale and Columbia Universities in the United States, compared air quality with regard to its effect on human health in 132 nations worldwide to reach the conclusion.

India secured the last place in the study by scoring a minuscule 3.73 out of 100 points, lagging far behind the next worst performer, Bangladesh, which managed to score 13.66 points, according to reports in India’s Hindu press on Saturday.

In fact, the entire South Asian region fareed badly, with Nepal and Pakistan taking up the remaining spots in the bottom four of the rankings, according to the study..

In the case of water -- both in terms of the ecosystem effects to water resources and the human health effects of water quality -- India performed poorly, whereas Switzerland, Latvia and Norway captured the top slots in the chart.

Air pollution has been an irritant in India for long. Last year, a local study into the health effects of air pollution in the country had revealed that Indians have the poorest lungs among 17 populations across four continents.

According to government statistics, the major sources of air pollution in India include the rampant burning of fuel wood and biomass such as dried waste from livestock as the primary source of energy.

The World Health Organization also estimates that 300,000 to 400,000 people die of indoor air pollution and carbon monoxide poisoning in India because of biomass burning and use of chullahs or indigenous stoves.