Air pollution is the new tobacco, and the simple breathing action kills 7 million people a year and injures billions…
Air pollution is the new tobacco, and the simple breathing action kills 7 million people a year and injures billions more, says Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) in an interview with The Guardian on Saturday.
Estimated 91 percent of the world’s population is exposed to air pollution, which is the world’s largest health hazard to the environment, causing 4.2 million deaths from poor outdoor air and 3.8 million from household exposure from dirty cookers every year. 19659002] In India, pollution causes 1.1 million people, according to the state of the Global Air 2018 report, linking air pollution to 1
0.6% of all deaths in the country. In addition to asthma other respiratory diseases, pollution causes deaths from stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease, lung infections and trachea, bronchus and lung cancer.
For children, the risk begins in the womb and continues through newborn and early childhood periods that have led the WHO to turn on the headlamp on air pollution and child health in children in a new report released Monday two days before the world’s first global conference on pollution and health October 30-November.  Air quality in northern India is rapidly deteriorating to Diwali when the amount of PM2.5, a fine dust that causes and aggravates respiratory and pulmonary diseases, was 16 times more than in Delhi last year and 40 times higher than international Safe limits of 20 micrograms per cubic meter for PM10 and 10 micrograms per cubic meter for PM2.5. Delhi has 38 real-time and 10 manual stations, compared to a handful of other major metals where the data is insufficient.
Modern exposure to contaminated air has been linked to negative pregnancy outcomes, including premature birth, low birth weight, abnormal length of birth and head circumference, and small size for pregnancy. The children’s developing lungs are most vulnerable to injury as they breathe in faster, are more active, spend more time outdoors and have immune systems that are still developing.
Children exposed to contamination have lower lung function capacity and are more susceptible to infections and the toxic effects of air pollutants as adults, leading to more exacerbations of chronic lung diseases such as asthma and cystic fibrosis and increased hospitalization.
Smog, the toxic fog produced by airborne dust, carbon particles, harmful gases and ozone reacts chemically in the presence of sunlight, preventing the ultraviolet B area from reaching the surface of the surface, leading to vitamin D deficient weakness in children. Human skin needs to cover 7-dehydrocholesterol to cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) upon exposure to ultraviolet B from the sun that is needed to build strong bones and prevent bone loss (osteoporosis) in later life.
Pollution leads to lower memory and IQ, with infants most exposed to toxic chemicals during the first 1000 days after birth when the major part of brain development occurs. It also causes mental and behavioral problems, developmental delays after age three, a four-point IQ after five years, said a Unicef report released in 2017.
Also, exposure to traffic noise is linked to behavioral problems. Sleeping in rooms exposed to the noise of night traffic makes the children hyperactive, sleepless and raises their blood pressure.
Regulations that reduce pollution and reduce exposure to air toxins can counter some nausea effects. Reduced sulfur dioxide in the former East Germany after Germany’s reunification in 1990 led to improved lung function and reduced respiratory diseases such as bronchitis, sinusitis and frequent colds in children. Studies from the United States have also shown that children moving to states with better air have increased lung function and lower hospital intake with respiratory distress such as asthma, pneumonia, bronchitis and respiratory tract infections.
First published: October 28, 2018 11:47 IST