[Answered] Health must be turned into a feature and eventually a function of air pollution policy. Discuss.

Introduction: Contextual introduction.
Body: Explain Present status of health in India’s pollution policy-making. Also explain why health in India’s pollution policy-making is essential.

Conclusion: Write a way forward.

Air pollution is the degradation of air quality due to the contamination of pollutants. Industries (51%), Vehicles (27%), and Crop burning (17%) are the largest contributor to Air pollution. No city in India met the updated WHO safety standards of 5 micrograms of PM 2.5 per cubic metre of air. Nearly half surpassed this limit by more than 10 times.

Present status of health in India’s pollution policy-making:

  • India’s environmental regulators, expert groups and decision-making entities do not have any health expertise.
  • The recently constituted Commission for Air Quality Management also lacks any health representation.
  • Recent papers published by the Centre for Policy Research revealed that health sector representatives comprise less than 5% of the membership of State Pollution Control Boards.
  • Whether it is stubble burning or thermal power plant emissions, decisions are made without any consideration of their potential effects on health.
Why health in India’s pollution policy-making is essential?
  • The primacy of protecting public health is clearly laid out in the statement of objects and reasons of India’s key environmental laws.
  • According to the Lancet, in India, in 2019, 17.8% of all deaths and 11.5% of respiratory, cardiovascular and other related diseases are attributable to high exposure to pollution.
  • The effects of exposure to bad air are felt most deeply by vulnerables in society — children, the elderly, pregnant women, and those with pre-existing health conditions.
  • Understanding the effect of pollutants on human health is key to developing policies for environmentally friendly growth in the transportation sector.
  • Besides endangering health and shortening lifespan, air pollution adversely affects economic growth through reduced productivity and decreased labour supply, and via health-care expenditures and lost welfare.

Air pollution is a risk for all-cause mortality as well as specific diseases. To tackle air pollution as well as its consequences, India should centre science and health to permanently fix the problem of air pollution.

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