Adaptation and Resilience, Environmental Governance and Policy


1 May 2024

Synergistic Impact of Air Pollution and Heat on Health and Economy in India (Springer)

Abinaya Sekar, Rajat Sharma and Annanya Mahajan


In recent years, developing countries have been grappling with two significant environmental challenges—air pollution and increasing temperature. The impact of these issues on health and the economy has been extensively studied, leading to a growing body of literature highlighting their individual consequences. Understanding the synergistic effect of air pollution and increasing temperature on human well-being is a new topic of research that has received little attention in developing nations.

This chapter, published in the book The Climate-Health-Sustainability Nexus: Understanding the Interconnected Impact on Populations and the Environment (Springer), aims to address this gap in knowledge by thoroughly examining the existing literature to understand the combined influence of these environmental stressors and their implications for global health and the economy. We look into the trends of global exposure to air pollution and temperature and explore the pathophysiological pathways through which air pollution and increasing temperature affect human health. Our findings point to a severe lack of evidence on the synergistic impact of the two on human health in India. In the face of increasing climate vulnerability, the Indian economy is exposed to large degrees of risk through direct and indirect costs. It is crucial that the interplay between air pollution and heat be studied in depth. By dissecting these pathways, policymakers and healthcare professionals can develop more targeted strategies to mitigate the combined impacts of both on public health.

Finally, we focus on the health and economic co- benefits of implementing interventions to reduce air pollution and combat heat waves. By addressing these challenges in tandem, there is an opportunity to achieve greater overall benefits for both human well-being and economic prosperity. Through a deeper understanding of these interconnected challenges, we can strive for a healthier and more sustainable future for all, especially for those most vulnerable to poor environmental quality.

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