Parl Report Highlights How Polluted Air Is Huge Risk FactorDurgeshNandan.Jha@timesgroup.com
The capital witnessed 981 deaths due to Acute Respiratory Infection (ARI) from 2013 to 2017. Over 17 lakh others were diagnosed with ARI, stated a standing committee report tabled in Parliament on Tuesday.
The report said the polluted air in Delhi-NCR is a significant risk factor for a number of pollution-related diseases and health conditions, including respiratory infections, and recommended immediate corrective and preventive strategic steps in consultation to mitigate the air pollution.
The committee, which held three meetings with authorities concerned and analysed the whole gamut of air pollution in Delhi-NCR in the past nine months, said it was surprised to note that the health ministry was not taken on board in the high-level task force on air pollution which is, in a way, indicative of ignorance as well as denial about negative impact of air pollution on human health. “The committee recommends that considering the severe health hazards of air pollution, ministry of environment, forest and climate change should take immediate corrective and preventive strategic steps in consultation with the health ministry,” the committee advised.
It has asked the health ministry to aggressively start an awareness campaign to educate people about the adverse health effects of air pollution, and the ways and means to minimise its adverse impacts.
In 2016, the World Health Organisation (WHO) put Delhi amongst the 20 most polluted cities in the world in terms of PM2.5 levels.
An epidemiological study conducted in 2008 on effects of air pollution on human health (adults) in Delhi, referred to by the parliamentary committee in its report, shows citizens of the city were more susceptible to respiratory symptoms compared with those living in rural areas.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) had said last year there is growing body of scientific research that shows that air pollution can permanently damage a child’s brain.
UNICEF also said that south Asia has the largest proportion of babies living in areas where air pollution is at least six times higher than international limits (10 micrograms per cubic metre). “Pollution is one of the biggest health hazards of our times. Apart from the government agencies, people need to realise this urgently too and take preventive measures,” Dr Arvind Kumar, centre for chest surgery at SGRH, said.
In a recent analysis conducted by him that involved 150 in-house patients suffering from lung cancer from March 2012 to June 2018, Dr Kumar found nearly half of the patients were non-smokers. While conventional wisdom states that smoking is its main cause, but now, there is strong evidence that points to the increasing role of air pollution in the rise of the cases, he said.
Calling polluted air in Delhi a significant risk factor for a number of pollution-related diseases and health conditions, the parliamentary committee on Tuesday said infants, children and asthmatic patients were most vulnerable to it.