Air pollution is killing two people in India every minute, with the country’s environment turning more toxic by the day, says a new study published in the journal ‘The Lancet’.

According to the study, some of the worst polluted cities of the world are in India. The study, released this week but based on 2010 data, estimates that, globally, 2.7-3.4 million preterm births may be associated with exposure to PM 2.5. South Asia, with 1.6 million preterm births, is the worst hit, the study added

The review by 48 scientists and experts from 16 international institutions has warned that air pollution has adverse health effects on people even when the concentration of pollutants meets WHO standards.

At the same time, it said reducing air pollution will lead to massive health benefits. The study, called ‘The Lancet Countdown: Tracking Progress on Health and Climate Change’ — a review of significant scientific studies — refers to the recent International Energy Agency (IEA) report which had collated PM 2.5 exposure in lower, middle and upper income countries.

In the report, Patna and Delhi figure among the most polluted cities, both having an annual PM 2.5 concentration of more than 120 micrograms per cubic metres — about 12 times the WHO guideline. The WHO annual PM 2.5 guideline is 10 micrograms per cubic metres. This IEA report had sourced data from the World Health Organisation (WHO’s) urban air quality database of 2016.