India has been in denial mode on linking premature deaths to air pollution in absence of conclusive data, but a new comprehensive global report by two US-based institutes may now trigger a rethink.

The report claims the country's worsening air pollution caused some 1.1 million premature deaths in 2015 and it now rivals China in having among the highest air pollution health burdens in the world.

The State of Global Air 2017 report, released in Boston on Tuesday, claims long term exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) — the most significant element of air pollution — contributed to 4.2 million premature deaths in the world in 2015 where both India and China together were responsible for over half of the total global deaths.

Though the report sounds alarm bells for entire Asia, it paints a particlularly grim picture for India where the rate of increase of premature deaths due to air pollution is even higher than in China. It noted that while the early deaths related to PM2.5 in China has increased by 17.22% since 1990, it has increased by 48% in India.

Ozone-related early deaths in India are, in fact, 33% higher than those recorded for China.

Source: February 15, 2017, The Times of India