Indians would live for about four years longer on an average if the country meets the WHO’s air quality standards, according to a new study.

Noting that ambient air pollution alone may cost India more than USD 0.5 trillion per year, it said it is causing hundreds of millions of people in the country to lead shorter and sicker lives.

A group of researchers have proposed a slew of measures to overcome the issue that includes applying monetary charges for excess emissions.

Indians would be able to live for about four years longer on an average if the country meets the WHO’s air quality standards, the study said.

Under the World Health Organisation quality standards, fine particulate matter (PM2.5) should be 10 g/m3 annual mean and 25 g/m3 24-hour mean while the coarse particulate matter (PM10) 20 g/m3 annual mean and 50 g/m3 24-hour mean.

To help improve India’s air quality, researchers from the University of Chicago and Harvard Kennedy School have laid out five key evidence-based policy recommendations in a new report titled ‘A Roadmap Towards Cleaning India’s Air’, the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago said in a statement.

The study noted more than 660 million Indians live in areas that exceed the country’s standard for what is considered safe exposure to fine particulate matter(PM2.5).

The recommendations include improving emissions monitoring by better aligning incentives of auditors, providing regulators with real-time data on polluters’ emissions, applying monetary charges for excess emissions, providing the public with information about polluters, and using markets to reduce abatement costs and pollution, according to the study.

“While the economic costs of pollution are high and there is no easy solution, we remain optimistic because of the incredible innovations currently being experimented with throughout India,” Rohini Pande, a professor in Rafik Hariri University and co-director of Evidence for Policy Design (EPoD) at Harvard Kennedy School, was quoted in the statement.