How air pollution makes Delhi deadly every year

How air pollution makes Delhi deadly every year

As winter approaches, Delhi’s bad air is once again in the news. The air in the National Capital is expected to remain in the ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ category today (October 27) and for the next two days, according to a forecast from the Air Quality Early Warning System.

This comes after Delhi recorded an Air Quality Index (AQI) of 271 on Wednesday, which was slightly better than the 302 recorded the day after Diwali (Tuesday).

With worsening air quality, health problems are not far away. Several studies have linked the deterioration of various health conditions with the increase in air pollution.

A study last year by Greenpeace Southeast Asia Analysis and the Swiss firm IQAir claimed that some 54,000 premature deaths in Delhi in 2020 were due to air pollution.

How does poor air quality affect our health? How can we stay safe in the midst of increasing pollution? Let’s take a closer look.

READ ALSO: The new and improved plan to combat air pollution in Delhi

How air pollution affects health

Air pollution can have short-term and long-term effects on human health. Short-term effects are visible in the form of irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat due to smog.

Pneumonia or bronchitis can also be caused by increased pollutants in the air, while headaches, dizziness, and nausea are also some temporary effects of exposure to stale air.

Long-term effects of air pollution include heart and respiratory diseases and lung cancer. It can also affect a person’s nerves, brain, kidneys, liver, and other organs, according to National Geographic.

As air quality begins to decline, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other respiratory cases are seeing an uptick, experts say.

“The changes have shown that air pollution contributes to other health conditions, such as bladder cancer, lung diseases, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), respiratory infections, and cardiovascular disease,” he said. Dr. Avi Kumar, senior consultant in pulmonology, at the Fortis Escorts Heart Institute in Delhi, was quoted as saying by India Today.

Diseases and deaths How air pollution makes Delhi deadly every year

Polluted air can have various adverse health impacts. AP (Representational Image)

“Breathing ozone and particulate pollution can lead to an increase in asthma attacks,” says the American Lung Association.

A study by the UK’s Francis Crick Institute and University College London found that exposure to tiny PM2.5 pollutant particles leads to the growth of cells carrying cancer-causing mutations in the lungs.

Other research by the Lung Care Foundation and Pulmocare Research and Education last year found that children who are exposed to high levels of air pollution can become obese and have a higher risk of asthma.

Although there may be many causes for obesity in children, “ambient air pollution could be a major contributing factor,” the study said, according to BBC.

Commenting on how air pollution affects children, President and CEO of Medanta – The Medicity, Dr. Naresh Trehan, said india today that it can “affect their brain development.”

READ ALSO: Drowned: Why Delhi’s Air Pollution Problem Isn’t Just a Winter Problem

COVID-19 and air pollution

Experts say that as air pollution increases, it negatively affects people suffering from coronavirus-related respiratory illnesses.

according to Deutsche Welle (DW)European scientists discovered in 2020 that exposure to air pollution can increase the death rate from COVID-19.

“Emergency hospital admissions related to stress and respiratory and cardiac symptoms increase during the winter months every year. Due to long-term exposure to air pollution, the health of the vulnerable is already compromised,” said Anumita Roy Chowdhury, director of the Center for Science and Environment (CSE), quoted by D.W. in 2020.

“Studies show how children grow up with smaller lungs, that every third child in Delhi has damaged lungs, and a large number of children have pulmonary hemorrhage, among others,” he added.

Furthermore, Chowdhury stated that as air quality declines and smog increases, even the healthy population suffers.

Increased respiratory problems

In November last year, Delhi reported an increase in the number of hospitalized patients with respiratory problems.

“We have seen an increase in the severity of asthma attacks. Those with pre-existing respiratory problems require hospitalization. These are acute effects of dangerous air pollution in the city,” said Dr. Vikas Maurya, Head of Pulmonology Department, Fortis Hospital, Shalimar Bagh. ITP in 2021.

People with respiratory problems increased after Diwali last year in Delhi.

“After Diwali, we have seen an increase in patients with respiratory diseases. Patients complain of cough, chest congestion and nasal congestion,” said Dr. Parinita Kaur, Akash Healthcare, quoted by India Today.

Diseases and deaths How air pollution makes Delhi deadly every year

Last year, after Diwali, Delhi saw a surge in patients with respiratory illnesses. AP (Representational Image)

Notably, the National Capital had recorded the “most toxic air quality” on Diwali in 2021 compared to the last five years, The impression informed.

Explaining the reasons behind the jump in respiratory illnesses, Apollo Hospitals physician Rajesh Chawla said india today, “When winter comes, air movement decreases in Delhi. And with the holidays approaching and air pollution increasing due to traffic movement, the AQI level drops. Therefore, we see an increase in patients with respiratory illnesses or problems.”

How to stay safe from contamination?

When air pollution rises, experts advise elderly patients and those with respiratory illnesses to stay home and only venture outside if absolutely necessary, reports PTI.

The American Lung Association says that people should not smoke indoors when pollution levels are high.

Dr. Neetu Jain, Senior Consultant, Pulmonary and Critical Care, Sleep Medicine, PSRI Hospital, says that people who exercise should go out only after 10 am and also avoid venturing out late at night. “Air is heavier when it’s cold, so you end up breathing polluted air early in the morning or late at night. When the air is lighter, it rises so it is not at the level of your breath and this happens between 10 am and 3 pm. So try to exercise after 10 am and before sunset,” said Jain. India Today.

The American Lung Association advises people not to exercise near high-traffic areas, as vehicle emissions increase pollution levels.

People should wear an N95 pollution mask or a valved mask when going out, says Jain.

Dr. Ravi Shekhar Jha, director of pulmonology at Fortis Escorts Hospital, Faridabad, recommends consuming citrus fruits and foods rich in antioxidants to keep the lungs healthy, reports India Today.

With contributions from agencies

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