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Air Pollution: The Silent Killer in Delhi NCR

Air Pollution - IA

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With the arrival of winters, Delhi and its surrounding cities are engulfed in smog. The AQI (Air Quality Index) constantly remains in the “hazardous” level. For those who aren’t familiar with it, the AQI level is measured on the basis on PM (Particulate Matter) 2.5. PM2.5, by actuality, comprises of tiny pollutants produced by combustion. These pollutants are released by burning coal and running of diesel engines. Add to it the burning of crops in neighboring states, pollution in Delhi NCR is aggravated to a point that AQI levels reach 999, which happens to be the maximum reading on the scale. The PM2.5 is so small that it can slip into the lungs and can lead to a number of serious health issues.

Impact on Health

The air pollution in Delhi NCR region has constantly exceeded that of most other areas in the country. High levels of air pollution have severely impacted the health of the city’s residents, causing a number of ailments, from respiratory illnesses to even death. Babies and elderly are the ones who are the worst affected by pollution. In fact, according to a study, Delhi loses about 80 lives from pollution every day. The same study paints a very worrying picture, as it lays a particular emphasis that if no action is taken to control air pollution, the number of deaths could rise by 20 to 30 percent. 

Rising Prevalence of Respiratory Diseases

A study showed that the air pollution in Delhi has led to 1.7x higher prevalence of respiratory symptoms in its residents compared to the control group (rural population of West Bengal)  

Here is what the study found:

  • The odds of upper respiratory symptoms was 1.59
  • For lower respiratory symptoms it was 1.67 (dry cough, breathlessness and chest discomfort)
  • Prevalence of asthma was significantly higher in Delhi individuals.

There is also increased prevalence of the following:

  • Restrictive type of lung function deficit (22.5% vs. 11.4% in control group)
  • Obstructive type of lung function deficit (10.7% vs. 6.6% in control group)
  • Both obstructive and restrictive) type of lung functions deficits (7.1% vs. 2.0% control group)

Individuals from Delhi also had:

  • Higher prevalence of several cytological changes in sputum
  • Hypertension was at 36% in Delhi against 9.5% in the control group
  • Higher levels of chronic headache, eye irritation and skin irritation.

Measures against Air Pollution

While the government is racking its brains to combat the air pollution menace, the citizens are turning to alternative methods of treatment, such as functional medicine to combat the adverse effects of pollution on health. We at Intelligent Ageing, a functional medicine clinic, offer ozone therapy that boosts antioxidant defence system within the body, and helps in eliminating environmental/food related/metabolic impurities and toxins from the body via skin.

While there is no quick-fix solution to the air pollution problem, we can all do our bit. Carpooling and using public transport and running plantation drives, even at the household lever, are some of the steps we can take. As for taking care of your own health, the use of masks and avoiding going outside during peak hours with poor air quality can help you avoid the harmful effects of air pollution.

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