New Delhi: Exposure to fine particle pollution (PM2.5) has been found to increase the risk of anaemia, acute respiratory infection and low birth weight among children in India, according to a study published in the journal Nature Communications. For every 10 micrograms per cubic metre (ug/m3) increase in exposure to fine particulate matter, the risk of anaemia, acute respiratory infection and low birth weight in children increased by 10, 11 and 5 per cent, respectively, the researchers found.
The team from The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi, and other institutes, also suggested that using ‘total PM2.5 mass’ to measure exposure to air pollution could “substantially underestimate” the true combined effect of different components of PM2.5 on children’s health in India.
PM2.5 is a mixture made up of various components with different sources and toxicities, they said.
Each polluting source may produce different PM2.5 components such as organic carbon (OC), nitrates (NO3-), chlorides, along with metallic, soil and water molecules, and likewise, each component of PM2.5 may come from various sources, they said.
The researchers analysed health data from the National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-4, a household survey conducted between January 20, 2015 and December 4, 2016 across all 640 districts of India.
They chose low birth weight, anaemia and acute respiratory infection to represent the health burden of children aged five years or younger (under-5, or U5) because these parameters are commonly reported public health morbidities in India, they said.
Analysing more than 1,77,000 observations in the NFHS-4 dataset, the researchers found that elemental and organic carbon (OC), NO3- and ammonia (NH4+ ) were more associated with the three health outcomes than other PM2.5 species, even as, they said, other PM2.5 components also indicated a consistent risk to child health.
The national prevalence of low birth weight in the observations analysed was 16.6 per cent, with the prevalence being higher in girls (17.8 per cent) than in boys (15.5 per cent).
Low birth weight prevalence was found to vary with mother’s education, socioeconomic status, mother’s body mass index (BMI), age, place of residence, and different levels of PM2.5.
Anaemia was found to be prevalent among 56.8 per cent of the U5 children, and was also associated with maternal education, religion, socioeconomic, place of residence, levels of PM2.5 exposure and maternal anaemia status.
Acute respiratory infection prevailed in 2.8 per cent of the children studied, with rural areas showing higher estimated levels than urban ones, the researchers said.
At the sample collection level, the yearly average PM2.5 was found to be 62 ug/m3, with the most dominant components being OC, NO3-, NH4+ and sulphates (SO4), along with others that include chloride, sodium, magnesium, potassium, calcium, soil, and water molecules.
The fine particle pollution mostly came from domestic, industrial, international, agricultural and transport sectors, the researchers said.
Analysing the impact of sectoral PM2.5 on all three child health outcomes, the researchers attributed the exposure to emissions from road dust, transport, industry, agriculture, domestic, and others, as well as international sources (from neighbouring countries).
The exposure was found to depict adverse effects on at least one health endpoint.
The researchers said that the study presented the first comprehensive assessment of the effects of PM2.5, its components and the sectors contributing to it, on the health outcomes of under-5 children in India.
(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 – theLGBTQ population,indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the currentCOVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water,SanitationandHygiene) 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, fightmalnutrition, 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 likeair pollution,waste management,plastic ban,manual scavengingand sanitation workers andmenstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India wheretoiletsare used andopen defecation free (ODF)status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched byPrime Minister Narendra Modiin 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.