Striving for clean air: air pollution and public health in South Asia

South Asia is home to 9 of the world’s 10 cities with the worst air pollution, which causes an estimated 2 million premature deaths across the region each year and incurs significant economic costs. This new World Bank report shows that there are economically feasible, cost-effective solutions to achieve clean air in the region, but this requires countries to coordinate policies and investments. Striving for Clean Air: Air Pollution and Public Health in South Asia, says concentrations of fine particulate matter such as soot and small dust (PM 2.5) in some of the region’s most densely populated and poor areas are up to 20 times higher than what WHO considers healthy (5 µg/mᶾ). Exposure to such extreme air pollution has impacts ranging from stunting and reduced cognitive development in children, to respiratory infections and chronic and debilitating diseases. This drives up healthcare costs, lowers a country’s productive capacity, and leads to lost days worked.