Air pollution going to be a big disaster for health, warn experts

New Delhi [India]: As the national capital witnesses no significant improvement in the air quality, the people of Delhi and adjoining areas are complaining of severe health issues. The quantity of dust particles suspended in the air is higher than the World Health Organization’s (WHO) safety guidelines; most hospitals in Delhi-NCR are reporting patients from all age groups with lung-related issues. According to experts, people with no past history of respiratory troubles are also developing lung-related problems due to air pollution.
Dr Rajesh Kumar Gupta, the Additional Director of Pulmonology and Critical Care at Fortis, Noida said, “We are breathing toxic air every day. Everyone from every age group is suffering, be it children or elderly, or young people with normal lung functions or those with diseased lungs, be it from COVID-19 or other lung diseases like asthma, COPD or others. We cannot categorise them into two. People with normal lungs or those with lung defects, pollution is affecting both populations badly.”
“Those with normal lungs are able to take it on a little better, but those with compromised lungs, get sicker. If your lungs, which are the main breathing machine, are affected, then they can experience any pollution-related infection, pneumonia, asthma, even routine nasal congestion, headache, cough, breathlessness, which everyone staying in the NCR is feeling,” he added.
Gupta also said that the blackish sputum that almost everyone is experiencing on nasal discharge these days “is the kind of smoke we are breathing” and has a “very very deleterious effect on the lungs of everyone”, especially those who have abnormal or diseased lungs.
“There have been studies which have shown that those who live in NCR lose up to 10 years of life because of pollution. When we are born, the first thing we do is breathe. Right now, if don’t breathe well, it’s only going to be a bigger disaster,” he further said.
Adding to it, Dr Ashish Khattar, a Senior Consultant (Internal Medicine) at Venkteshwar Hospital said that pollution is further compromising the lung function of those who are already suffering from bronchitis, asthma or post-COVID illness and is leading to respiratory ailments and distress.
“This is the reason why people who already have compromised lungs are experiencing difficulty in breathing. They are citing distress, breathlessness, shortness of breath, tiredness, weakness, headache and all these symptoms. There are a lot of concerns with polluted air,” he said.
Dr Shubhang Aggarwal, the Director of NHS Hospital, Jalandhar said that with winter conditions setting in, the dust and particulate material from vehicular pollution and smoke from stubble burning have caused smog-like conditions. The dangerous mix of these increases the risk of respiratory diseases, much like smoking cigarette toxins does.
“For children who grow up in highly polluted cities like Delhi, Jalandhar and other North Indian states, the impact of this dangerous air can be catastrophic for their undeveloped lungs and respiratory systems,” he said.
Aggarwal informed that a significant spike in people reporting respiratory problems in such weather and environmental conditions has been witnessed.
“Common complaints include cough and breathlessness. It is well known that the burning of stubble releases a toxic mixture of gasses which include carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and even manganese and cadmium particles in the atmosphere. This means city residents are practically inhaling poisonous air, which is severely affecting their lung health. No surprise, our pulmonary department will be overflowing with patients,” he added.

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