"The analysis found that China and India together were responsible for over half of the total global attributable deaths", the first annual State of Global Air Report by the institute said. India's notoriously poor air quality causes nearly 1.1 million premature deaths every year, almost on a par with China, concluded a joint report by two US -based health research institutes.
China is also considering tough new measures restricting industrial activity in the region surrounding Beijing, according to a draft policy document seen by Reuters.
But in India that number has steadily climbed from an estimated 737,400 premature deaths a year in 1990 to 1.09 million in 2015, just shy of China. Unchecked rapid industrialization in China propelled it to become the world's second largest economy but polluted the air. An increase in vehicle traffic, emissions from coal-fired power plants and other industrial facilities, and fires fueled by wood and dung contribute to the problem.
"India now approaches China in the number of deaths attributable to PM2.5", said the report by the Health Effects Institute and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
Beijing was one of 24 cities to issue a smog "red alert" at the end of a year ago, allowing authorities to impose emergency restrictions on traffic and industrial output in order to reduce emissions.
In India, deaths caused by air pollution are nearing unprecedented levels, putting the country on par with China, where air is the world's deadliest, a report says.
Pollution in New Delhi in November reached crisis levels, with crop burning, auto exhaust, dust and coal plants blamed for the record smog.
"It found that increasing exposure and a growing and aging population have meant that India now rivals China for among the highest air pollution health burdens in the world, with both countries facing some 1.1 million early deaths due to it in 2015", it said.
In north Indian cities such as Allahabad and Gwalior, cycling for more than 30 minutes is bad for health, the study said. "The U.S. Clean Air Act and actions by the European Commission have made substantial progress in reducing people exposed to PM since 1990", the report read.