Air pollution levels exacerbate in the capital once again

Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India, Medicine, Social Health Community Comments Off

Children and expectant mothers at increased risk

New Delhi, 29th October 2018: As per a recent report called the State of Global Air 2018, pollution kills 1.1 million people in India and air pollutants are responsible for about 10.6% of all deaths in the country. Air pollution is the new tobacco and simply breathing is responsible for about 7 million people a year and harming another billion. An estimated 91% of the world’s population is exposed to air pollution, which is the world’s biggest environmental health risk, causing 4.2 million deaths from poor outdoor air and 3.8 million from household exposure from dirty cookstoves each year.

Air pollution is responsible not only for various respiratory diseases but also deaths from stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease, lung infections, and trachea, bronchus and lung cancers. For children, the risk begins in the womb and continues through the newborn and early childhood period.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “Air pollution is as serious a health hazard as any other chronic disease. Its impact has increased manifold today and it is particularly harmful for children and pregnant women. Mother’s exposure to polluted air has been linked to adverse pregnancy outcomes, including premature birth, low birth weight, abnormal birth length and head circumference, and small size for gestational age. As children’s lungs are in the development stage, they are most susceptible to injury. This is because they breathe in faster and spend more time outdoors. Over time, their lung functional capacity decreases and they become more susceptible to infections.”

Exposure to tiny air pollution particles even for a brief period can lead to acute lower respiratory infection (ALRI) in young children, as per a recent study. Elevated levels of PM2.5- pollution-causing particles, about 3% of the diameter of human hair, can affect newborns, toddlers, and adults alike. The most common ALRI in children is Bronchiolitis.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “There are no vaccines for the most common causes of bronchiolitis (RSV and rhinovirus). However, it is recommended to give all children older than 6 months an annual flu shot. Infants at a high risk of the RSV infection, such as those born very prematurely or with a heart-lung condition or a depressed immune system, may be given the medication palivizumab to decrease the likelihood of RSV infections.”

Some tips from HCFI

  • Walk or cycle for short distance commutes or to the neighborhood market. Plan and combine all your errands in one area or close by areas for one trip. Limit driving and make use of carpool.
  • Use public transport as much as possible for longer distances. Keep your vehicle well maintained for efficient functioning with regular servicing to reduce harmful exhaust emissions and get pollution check done as required. Follow speed limits. Avoid buying diesel vehicle.
  • Avoid burning candles, dhoop or incense sticks at home or workplace.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Plant more trees. Limit the areas of bare soil by growing grass to reduce the amount of dust. Sprinkle water on exposed soil or construction sites regularly to reduce generation of dust. Wet mop the floors at home or workplace.
  • Choose a place with least pollution levels when there is a choice.