Health Impact

Every day we come across headlines screaming in our face on the imminent dangers of the polluted air engulfing our surroundings.

We could probably go three weeks without food, three days without water, but it’s difficult to go beyond three minutes without air. We breathe almost 3000 gallons of air every day, but do we really know how clean it is? We know when food is dirty or water is impure but when it comes to air we do not realize how polluted it is because we cannot see it.

Did you know that particulate matter(PM), made up of very tiny solid and liquid particles is a widespread air pollutant, present all around us? These suspended particulates are 25 to 100 times thinner than a human hair (which is why we can’t see it) and can travel into the respiratory tract, penetrate deep into the lungs and even into the blood stream and cause severe health damage. The coarser particles, between 2.5 and 10 micrometers (from about 25 to 100 times thinner than a human hair) are called PM10. The very fine particles, smaller than 2.5 micrometers (more than 100 times thinner than a human hair) are called PM2.5.

In 2014, WHO reported that Delhi is the most polluted city in the world with a PM2.5 annual average of 183ug/m3. Unfortunately this problem is not limited just to Delhi - 13 of the top 20 most polluted cities in the world are in India. In the winter months, PM2.5 levels in Delhi and several other cities in India regularly touch 300 and 500 ug/m3 range.

To put it in context

  •  The prescribed standard for the annual average of PM2.5 is 60ug/m3 in India, and 15ug/m3 in USA.
  • Research shows that every 10ug/m3 increase in PM 2.5, increases all cause mortality between 3-26%, chances of childhood asthma by 16%, chances of lung cancer by 36% and heart attacks by 44%.


                                                    How it effects all of us.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet
   Our children - the most protected are the most prone

Our children are most affected by air pollution because, for their body size, they breathe more air and spend more time playing outside. Pollution can cause irreversible damage to their lungs which are still developing. Studies have shown that 40% of children in Delhi have reduced lung capacity. It also affects their brains and can lead to autism and lower IQ.

Many feel that it is important for children to be exposed to air pollution to develop immunity against it. 24-hour exposure to air pollution in Delhi is like smoking a full pack of cigarettes. Smoking more cigarettes, unfortunately, does not help you develop immunity to smoking.

Praesent vitae adipiscing nunc

People with lung and heart disease

People with heart or lung disease such as coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, and asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)— are at increased risk, because particles can aggravate these diseases. People with diabetes also may be at increased risk, possibly because they are more likely to have underlying cardiovascular disease.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit
Exercising was never unhealthy until now..

Exercising is prescribed by doctors for healthy living, however in a polluted environment, exercise can do more harm than help. Exercise and physical activity cause people to breathe faster and more deeply—and to take more particles into their lungs. The most health conscious people who love working out in the wee hours of the morning are at most risk due to high PM2.5 levels in the early mornings.

Praesent vitae adipiscing nunc

Older people are at high risk

Older adults are at increased risk, because they may have undiagnosed heart or lung disease or diabetes. Many studies show that when particle levels are high, older adults are more likely to be hospitalized and some may die of aggravated heart or lung disease.

But it really effects all of us.

The impact of air pollution may not always reflect immediately on an individual’s health, hence the gravity may not be easily understood. But the fact is that it affects a large proportion of the population which makes this an important issue in global health.

Air pollution is the fifth leading cause of death in India with about 620,000 premature deaths occurring from air pollution-related diseases. WHO reports that in 2012 around 7 million people died - one in eight of total global deaths – as a result of air pollution exposure. We need to wake up to the fact that air pollution is now the world’s largest single environmental health risk.