Ranchi: Improvement in air quality index (AQI), particularly in terms of reducing the PM2.5 level can improve the life expectancy in all 24 districts of Jharkhand.
A study conducted by the Energy Policy Institute, University of Chicago (EPIC), has found that by adhering to World Health Organisation (WHO) prescribed standards of PM2.5 concentration, the average life expectancy of a person can be improved by 6.8 years in Dhanbad and 5.4 years in Ranchi.
Director communications of EPIC India Ashirvad Raha told TOI that they have been working on Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) to explain pollution levels in terms of life expectancy, which is easily interpretable and draws attention of everyone — from commoners to experts.
“AQLI links research work with satellite data of PM2.5 concentration and plot life expectancy graph as every 10 micro gram per metre cube increase in PM2.5 concentration reduced life expectancy by 0.64 years,” he said. The WHO puts the PM2.5 limit at 5 micro gram per metre cube while India puts it at 40 micro gram per metre cube.
The idea of corelating historical research data with satellite observation of pollutants is further useful in case of states like Jharkhand which lacks real-time monitoring of ambient air quality.
“It becomes difficult to obtain real-time data from across the state as there are only two real-time monitors located in Ranchi and Dhanbad. However, our AQLI tool can estimate the levels in even remote parts of the state,” he added.
Dhanbad-based cardiologist Dr D Chattejee admitted that the smaller particles of pollutants — PM2.5 are more dangerous as they pass into the blood stream and go to the deepest parts of the lungs.
“We have started the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), 2016, in 102 most polluted cities of the country. But there is a need for awareness at the individual level,” he said. Burning of garbage and plastic waste results in release of particulate matters, he cautioned.
Another Dhanbad-based pulmonologist Dr Suprova Chakravorty said she has come across a patient of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) who comes from a well-to-do family and was not exposed to industrial pollution.
“Four people in the family had similar complaint. We understood that the food being cooked on firewood at their home led to domestic air pollution, indicating that cooking medium can also cause COPD,” she added.

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