Banner Banner
Home > Brand Media Stories > Health And Fitness Stories > Article > Breathing Business The Economic Consequences of Air Pollution in India

Breathing Business: The Economic Consequences of Air Pollution in India

Updated on: 28 March,2024 04:52 PM IST  |  Mumbai
BrandMedia |

Air pollution has a direct impact on the productivity of the workforce.

Breathing Business: The Economic Consequences of Air Pollution in India

Col. Ashwini K Channan, CEO, Airvoice India

In a world that meticulously quantifies and measures nearly every aspect of life, from value of time to cost of goods, there exists an invaluable yet often overlooked aspect — the air we breathe. In the context of a materialistic society, where worth is often equated with tangible assets, the ethereal nature of clean air is frequently taken for granted. A relentless pursuit of industrial progress and economic prosperity has added unwillingly to an alarming consequence: the pervasive contamination of our environment. Being immersed in cultures that encourage numbers, it has become imperative to scrutinize “cost” of breathing polluted air. As the renowned philosopher Albert Schweitzer said, "Man has lost the capacity to foresee and to forestall. He will end by destroying the earth." These words resonate with a profound truth that urges us to reflect on the consequences of our actions, particularly in the context of the air we breathe and the ecological balance we jeopardize in the pursuit of material gains.

Breathing should be effortless and natural. However, in the geological imperative that we are in, air is becoming increasingly toxic with detrimental effects on health and the economy which has led to economic consequences that are staggering and multifaceted.

Health Impacts and Healthcare Costs
The escalating public health crisis attributed to air pollution in India has precipitated a surge in respiratory diseases and other health complications. The resultant upswing in healthcare costs, incurred primarily for the treatment of these afflictions, imposes a considerable strain on the national economy. This fiscal burden, borne both by individuals and the government, significantly diverts funds that could have been judiciously utilized elsewhere more productively. A study[1] disseminated by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in 2021 underscores the magnitude of this predicament, revealing that the total healthcare expenditure in India for the year 2019 reached an estimated $103.7 billion. Notably, air pollution emerged as a pervasive contributor, accounting for 11.5% of the disease burden during the same period. This statistical revelation accentuates the pressing need for comprehensive strategies and interventions to mitigate the multifaceted impact of air pollution on public health and the economic landscape.

Impact on Labor Productivity
Air pollution has a direct impact on the productivity of the workforce. Studies have shown that exposure to polluted air leads to higher rates of absenteeism and reduced productivity among workers. This decrease in labor efficiency ultimately affects the overall output and economic growth of the nation. A report by Dalberg Advisors, in partnership with Clean Air Fund and the Confederation of Indian Industry, estimated that air pollution costs Indian businesses about USD $95 billion every year, around 3% of India’s total GDP. The report outlines that air pollution has a significant impact on the Indian economy, including lower labor productivity, lower consumer footfall, lower asset productivity, increased health expenses, welfare losses, and premature mortality.

Environmental Degradation and Tourism
Air pollution has also cast a shadow over India's thriving tourism industry. The nation's once pristine natural landscapes and historical sites now bear the visible scars of smog and pollutants, presenting a deterrent to potential tourists. An example that clearly highlights this claim is of the Taj Mahal, whose pristine white marble had started turning yellow due to the corrosive effects of pollutants in the air. The aesthetic and atmospheric compromise not only diminishes the allure of these destinations but also profoundly impacts the revenue generated from the tourism sector. As the ambiance of India's scenic beauty is compromised, so too is the economic vitality derived from the influx of visitors, highlighting the urgent need for concerted efforts to address the pervasive environmental challenges undermining the country's tourism appeal.

Economic Downturn and Investment
The economic repercussions of air pollution in India manifest in the discernible decline of foreign investments and overall economic growth. Investors, cognizant of the profound environmental challenges confronting the nation, exhibit a heightened reluctance to allocate resources to a country grappling with severe pollution issues. This apprehension among investors contributes to a stagnation in economic development and opportunities. The hesitancy to engage in long-term financial commitments underscores the critical need for India to address its environmental concerns comprehensively, not only for the sake of public health and environmental sustainability but also to bolster its appeal as an attractive investment destination. A concerted effort towards mitigating air pollution is imperative to restore investor confidence and pave the way for sustained economic progress.

Addressing the issue of air pollution has the potential to drive innovation and technological advancements in India. Investments in clean energy, sustainable transportation, and environmental conservation can create new economic opportunities and propel the country towards a more sustainable and prosperous future.

The economic consequences of air pollution in India are glaring, but not insurmountable. By implementing stringent environmental regulations, investing in renewable energy, and promoting sustainable practices, India can mitigate the economic impact of air pollution. It is imperative for businesses, policymakers, and individuals to work together towards a cleaner and healthier future, where breathing doesn't come at a cost to the economy.

ICMR, Health and economic impact of air pollution in the states of India: the Global Burden of Disease Study 2019, link

Dalberg Report 2019 link

"Exciting news! Mid-day is now on WhatsApp Channels Subscribe today by clicking the link and stay updated with the latest news!" Click here!

Register for FREE
to continue reading !

This is not a paywall.
However, your registration helps us understand your preferences better and enables us to provide insightful and credible journalism for all our readers.

This website uses cookie or similar technologies, to enhance your browsing experience and provide personalised recommendations. By continuing to use our website, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. OK