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Air Pollution Causing More Disability Than Tobacco Smoke: Former AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria

With the rise in air pollution, people with asthmatic or bronchitis problems even shift to coastal areas to protect themselves from pollution

Air Pollution Causing More Disability Than Tobacco Smoke: Former AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria
A paper published in 2017, suggested that in India every year, more than 1.24 million people die because of air pollution

New Delhi: Air pollution in India’s national capital and NCR region has been affecting the organs of the people, said former Director of AIIMS, Delhi Dr Randeep Guleria. Dr Guleria, who is also HOD of the Department of Pulmonary Medicine and sleep disorders while speaking to ANI said, “it is causing more disability than even tobacco smoke. We talk a lot about smoking, but not about using tobacco. But now the burden of disability has shifted more towards air pollution and even that is causing a big problem than as compared to smoking.”

So unfortunately the AQI is at severe range and we’ve seen that every year. There have been times when it went up to 900 in the last few years. The concern of course, is that it has a huge health impact. A paper published in 2017, suggested that in India every year, more than 1.24 million people die because of air pollution. So it’s huge mortality that we see it causes huge disability. Many people have a problem, Dr Guleria further explained.

Also Read: Even People Without Respiratory Problem History Coming For Emergency Treatment Due To Air Pollution: Experts

With the rise in air pollution people with asthmatic or bronchitis problems even shift to coastal areas to protect themselves from pollution. Dr Guleria said,

Many of our patients leave Delhi and go to the south or to the coastal areas, because they have worsening of the underlying COPD and asthma, if they stay in Delhi and have to be on oxygen or have to come repeatedly to the emergency. The studies that we have been doing over the last few years have also shown that in children and adults, if you start looking at emergency room visits, there is a dramatic increase in emergency room visits for respiratory problems on day one and continuing for six days whenever AQI is in the poor or very poor or severe range in that area. So I think we have to understand that air pollution causes acute problems. It’s also causing long-term problems, he said.

The doctor further added that there is data which suggests that heart disease strokes, low respiratory infections, COPD, or air pollution is causing more disability than even tobacco smoke. Dr Guleria further emphasised that some practical solution is required.

So I think there is a need for everyone, policymakers, scientists, general public to come together to find a sustainable practical solution to the problem, he said.

He further advised children and the elderly population as a precaution to avoid going outside, exercise and must wear an N95 mask.

Children and elderly are at high risk of those who have underlying heart and lung disease, we usually advise that they should not go out in areas where AQI is high, we are able to monitor an AQI now in all areas, so they should look at the quality index in that area and avoid going out early in the morning or late in the evening because there tends to be more ground level pollution during this time, he said.

Dr Guleria further added that when the sun is out and it’s a little hot because of the hot air, the pollution tends to rise up and if you have to go, you can go out during that time. One should wear a mask, especially an N95 mask that does help to some extent it’s not 100 per cent solution, but that can also be done and during times when there are high levels of air pollution exercise outside could also be avoided.

Also Read: Delhi’s Air Pollution: Stage 4 Of Pollution Action Plan Implemented In The City, Here’s What’s Allowed & What’s Not

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ populationindigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diarrhoea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.

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