"In particular, India's air quality is among the worst in the world, tying China in terms of the proportion of the population exposed to average air pollution levels exceeding World Health Organisation thresholds," it said.
"Although India is an 'emerging market' alongside China, Brazil, Russia, and South Africa, its environment severely lags behind these others," said Angel Hsu of the Yale Centre for Environmental Law and Policy and lead author of the report.
"Very low GDP per capita coupled with the second highest population in the world means India's environmental challenge is more formidable than that faced by other emerging economies."
Switzerland comes in at the very top of the 2014 EPI. Luxembourg, Australia, Singapore and the Czech Republic round up the top five positions of the index, which ranks countries on high-priority environmental concerns that include air quality, water management and climate change.
The stresses of urbanisation without sufficient investment in environmental protection help explain why India has seen a 100 percent decline in its air quality scores over the past decade, Yale researchers said.
While media attention has focused on neighbouring China's air quality over the last year, India and other South Asian countries, including Bangladesh and Nepal, rank the worst in the EPI's air quality category.
This category also includes a household air quality indicator assessing the percentage of solid fuel used primarily for cooking and heating, the Yale release said.
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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