Air pollution choke Delhi, north India again

New Delhi: Delhi’s air quality worsened and continued to be in the “severe” and “very poor” category this week after Diwali, as per Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data. 

Several other cities in the National Capital Region (NCR) such as Noida, Gurugram, Faridabad, and Ghaziabad and towns in North India including Bhiwadi, Fatehabad, Hisar, and Hapur, also faced “severe” level air pollution.

Air pollution of severe levels “affects healthy people and seriously impacts those with existing diseases”, according to doctors.

“The pollution has shot up after Diwali due to firecrackers, crop burning, and usual vehicular pollution in the city. We have seen a 20 percent increase in the number of patients with chronic lung conditions reporting exacerbated symptoms for the last two weeks. ” Dr. Sandeep Nayar, head of the department of respiratory medicine at BLK-Max Hospital said.  

A study by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) conducted in 2017-19 has found that there is nearly a 20 percent increase in the number of patients needing emergency care when PM 2.5 level is recorded between 50-100 µg/m³. The hospitalization rates go up to 40 percent between October and January when PM 2.5 level increases in ambiance due to weather conditions.    

Dr. Rajesh Chawla, senior consultant of pulmonary and critical care at Indraprastha Apollo hospital, said, “The high pollution levels are likely to impact more people this year as a significant proportion of people who recovered from Covid-19 might not have completely healthy lungs. There has already been an increase in the number of patients with chronic respiratory conditions since Diwali.”

Doctors are of the view that the lungs of several Covid-19 patients might not have recovered fully and exposing them to a high level of pollution may exacerbate the situation for them. 

“Both Covid-19 and pollution primarily affect the lungs. High pollution levels may result in chronic conditions that predispose people to severe Covid-19. The lung damaged by severe Covid- 19 are also more likely to be affected by pollution,” said Dr. BK Tripathy, professor in the department of medicine at Safdarjung hospital.   

Image courtesy of (Prabhat Khabar)

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