A recent study by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC) has shed light on the devastating impact of air pollution on life expectancy in India. The study reveals that fine particulate air pollution (PM2.5) is responsible for shortening the average Indian's life by 5.3 years. In Delhi, a city notorious for its pollution levels, this number skyrockets to a staggering 11.9 years, as per the World Health Organisation (WHO) standard of five micrograms per cubic meter (g/m3).The Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) report delves into the effects of not just the WHO standards, but also India's national ambient air quality standards of 40 g/m3. According to the report, failing to meet the national standards could still lead to an average loss of 1.8 years in life expectancy for Indians, and up to 8.5 years for residents of Delhi.The AQLI underscores that particulate pollution poses the most substantial threat to health in India. Cardiovascular diseases cause an average life expectancy reduction of around 4.5 years, followed by child and maternal malnutrition, which leads to a loss of 1.8 years. The findings also spotlight various regions across India grappling with alarming levels of pollution-related life expectancy loss. For instance, Gurgaon experiences a reduction of 11.2 years, Faridabad 10.8 years, Jaunpur 10.1 years, and Lucknow and Kanpur both witness a decrease of 9.7 years each. The situation is dire, with the report indicating that all 1.3 billion Indians live in areas exceeding the WHO's annual average particulate pollution level standards, while a significant 67.4 per cent of the population resides in regions surpassing India's air quality standards.Globally, the study reveals that air pollution (PM2.5) remains a paramount risk to human health, shaving off an average of 2.3 years from life expectancy according to WHO standards. However, these figures fluctuate when considering country-specific national ambient air quality standards, which incorporate geographical and meteorological factors.The EPIC report underscores the gravity of the situation, stating, 'The impact of PM2.5 on global life expectancy is comparable to that of smoking, more than three times that of alcohol use and unsafe water, more than five times that of transport injuries like car crashes, and more than 7 times that of HIV/AIDS.'Michael Greenstone, the mind behind AQLI at EPIC, highlighted that the effects are concentrated in six countries Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, China, Nigeria, and Indonesia where people lose between one to more than six years of their lives due to air pollution. He stressed that these countries account for three-quarters of air pollution's impact on global life expectancy.Image used for representational purposes only.