Thursday, September 24, 2015

India's Doctors Blame Air Pollution for Sharp Rise in Respiratory Diseases

A sharp rise in cases of chest and throat disease in India is being blamed by doctors on worsening air pollution in the country, which is now home to 13 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world. According to India’s National Health Profile 2015, there were almost 3.5m reported cases of acute respiratory infection (ARI) last year, a 140,000 increase on the previous year and a 30% increase since 2010.

Read the article @ the Guardian

The number of ARI cases has risen steadily in India over the last 15 years, even when population growth is taken into account. In 2001, less than 2,000 cases per 100,000 people had an ARI. In 2012 the number was 2,600 per 100,000, statistics show. The rise has occurred despite steady improvements in medical care and nutrition, as well as a shift away from using wood as fuel in rural areas. Together this has mitigated many factors long blamed for the high levels of respiratory diseases in India.

Moratily Due to Air Pollution in Delhi - 80 per day !!

Doctors are blaming the increasing severity of the problem on unprecedented decline in air quality across India. “Due to the awareness drives conducted about diseases like swine flu and influenza, people have become more aware ... Yet air pollution is playing a major role in [increasing] the numbers of such diseases,” Dr Jugal Kishore, head of community medicine at Delhi’s Safdarjung hospital, told the local India Today news magazine. Attention to the problem of air pollution in India has so far focused almost exclusively on the capital. One study found that half of Delhi’s 4.4 million schoolchildren would never recover full lung capacity.

At Least 11% Delhites Suffer from Asthma

In other cities across the country the problem was even worse. In Ahmedabad, in the west, levels of PM2.5s peaked at eight times the WHO limit for a 24-hour average. In Lucknow, in the north, levels reached seven times the limit. Levels of CO2, nitrogen dioxide and ozone in less known cities have also regularly exceeded WHO guidelines by huge margins. India has the highest rate of death from respiratory disease in the world, according to the WHO,. The rate was 159 per 100,000 in 2012, about 10 times that of Italy, five times that of the UK and twice that of China.

In Chennai - 250 Asthma and COPD Cases Registered Everyday

Officials in Chennai say they are aware of the problem, and point to measures from the new $3bn (£2bn) metro to the construction of traffic islands as evidence of their intent to tackle it. But similar mass transit systems across India do not have a significant immediate impact on pollution, experts say. Most are too small and have been built too late. Studies show that Delhi’s metro users previously travelled on buses, by bicycles or on foot, not in cars. One effective, and considerably cheaper, scheme in Chennai has been the introduction of minibuses on smaller roads between the major bus routes. “It has worked and been very popular,” said Narayan. 

The problem has a broader cultural aspect too. In India, as in the west in the 1950s and 1960s, cars bring not just mobility and convenience but are tangible symbols of social success. On a sheet of paper pinned to a wall of the spotless Alandar station, contented passengers have scrawled their impressions of Chennai’s month-old metro. “Very wonderful, fantastic, unforgettable,” they gush.

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