Air pollution resurfaces once again in Delhi; city on alert

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

It is associated with increased risk of heart attack

New Delhi, 31st October 2018: Recent studies have indicated that exposure to particulate air pollution also may be associated with acute heart attack. This may be due, in part to a sympathetic stress response, as detected by changes in heart rate variability, the production of cytokines, and an increased vulnerability to plaque rupture. Some responsible pollutants include carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and small particulate matter (less than 10 microns and less than 2.5 microns).

Short-term particulate exposure contributed to acute coronary events (heart attack) in patients with underlying coronary artery disease. PM1, PM2.5 and PM10 are risk factors of all-cause, cardiovascular, stroke, respiratory, and COPD mortality. PM1 accounts for the vast majority of short-term PM2.5- and PM10-induced mortality. Smaller size fractions of PM have a more toxic mortality impact.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “Air pollution is a reality today and has been a subject of much discussion recently. Several studies have demonstrated the association of poor air quality with diseases such as respiratory and heart diseases, making it a major public health problem of concern. Air pollution, and specifically fine particulate matter, is associated with increased cardiovascular disease mortality. It has emerged as a potentially modifiable risk factor for the development of CVD. Multiple observational studies have demonstrated an association between fine particulate air pollution (primarily from the use of fossil fuels in automobiles, power plants, and for heating purposes) and cardiovascular and cardiopulmonary mortality as well as an increased risk for the development of acute coronary syndrome.”

There is increasing evidence for the role of environment in pathogenesis in many diseases. Children below 5 years of age and adults older than 50 years are most at risk. A global assessment of the burden of disease from environmental risks by the WHO has shown that 23% of global deaths and 26% of deaths among children under five are due to modifiable environmental factors.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “Delhi has been experiencing high air pollution levels since the past few days. The air quality is particularly poor in the early morning when pollution is extremely high. This is also the time when many people venture out to exercise or drop their school children. It is imperative to use a mask and also make people aware of the harmful effects of air pollution.”

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. If you have to use your vehicle keep it 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.

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.

Controlling air pollution is an urgent global concern

Health Care Comments Off

Air pollution has become a much-discussed topic these days. Lot is being written about and spoken about the rising pollution levels in the country and its impact on health. Air pollution has been recognized as a critical risk factor for noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in adults, accounting for 24% of all deaths due to heart disease, 25% from stroke, 43% from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and 29% because of lung cancer.

New data from WHO has shown that 9 out of 10 people breathe air containing high levels of pollutants reiterating the need for urgent action to check the dangerously high levels of pollution.

What should be of great concern to us all is that 14 cities in India, along with our national capital Delhi, are among the 20 most polluted cities in the world with regard to PM2.5 levels in 2016. For PM10 levels also, 13 Indian cities are included among the 20 most-polluted cities of the world in 2016.

The other major findings include:

Globally, around 7 million deaths occur annually due to exposure to ambient (outdoor) and household air pollution. South-East Asia Region accounts for 2.4 million of these 7 million premature deaths
As per WHO data, more than 40% of people globally still lack access to clean cooking fuels and technologies in their homes, the main source of household air pollution.
About 4.2 million deaths occurred due to ambient air pollution alone in 2016. About 1.3 million of these deaths were reported from SEAR.
Household air pollution from cooking with polluting fuels and technologies resulted in around 3.8 million deaths in 2016. Of these, 1.5 million deaths occurred in SEAR.
More than 90% of air pollution-related deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, mainly in Asia and Africa, followed by low- and middle-income countries of the Eastern Mediterranean region, Europe and the Americas.
The highest ambient air pollution levels are in the Eastern Mediterranean Region and in South-East Asia, with annual mean levels often exceeding more than 5 times WHO limits, followed by low and middle-income cities in Africa and the Western Pacific.
Africa and some of the Western Pacific region lack air pollution data. Europe has the highest number of places reporting data.
Ambient air pollution levels are lowest in high-income countries, particularly in Europe, the Americas and the Western Pacific.
“Every cloud has a silver lining”. The report acknowledges the positive progress in the efforts to reduce air pollution from particulate matter. Specifically, the report makes note of India’s Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana Scheme, which has provided some 37 million women living below the poverty line with free LPG connections to support them to switch to clean household energy use in the last two years. The target is to reach 80 million households by 2020.

These findings re-emphasize the need for urgent action to address this public health problem.

What is important here is to understand that the government does not alone bear the responsibility to prevent and control pollution. We all have a responsibility to protect our environment.

Much of existing pollution is man-made, so we also must contribute and actively participate in the efforts to control pollution.

(Source: WHO)

Dr KK Aggarwal

Padma Shri Awardee

Vice President CMAAO

Group Editor-in-Chief IJCP Publications

President Heart Care Foundation of India

Immediate Past National President IMA

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