Air pollution may cut 17 years off of New Delhi residents’ lives

November 29, 2019

New Delhi, India, has been reporting high air pollution levels after successive periods of poor air quality. According to a recent study, Delhiites might lose up to 17 years of their lives if pollution levels continue to cross the ‘danger’ mark – people in the city are currently breathing air which is 25 times more toxic than the permissible limits issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Experts based out of University of Chicago, in Illinois, US, said residents of Delhi could live for ten years less because of the bad air pollution levels, while other cities like Beijing, China, and Los Angeles, US, could see residents living for six and one year less than expected, respectively.

Particulate matter (PM), categorised by the diameter of atmospheric particles,is more harmful with toxic air as these particles can easily enter/settle in our bodies and cause/exacerbate a host of problems. New Delhi’s recorded PM 2.5, the most dangerous pollutant in the air, is capable of creating clots in the bloodstream and causing severe inflammation, pulmonary infections and cardiac complications, aside from impacting people’s immunity.

These pollution levels also affects expecting mothers and children – suffocating concentrates of carbon monoxides can disrupt the oxygen supply to cells and potentially hamper brain development. While this is alarming for foetal development, doctors have also noted that babies/toddlers are being brought in to the hospital with complaints of lung infections and breathing issues.

An excerpt from the “State of Global Air” report by the US Health Effects Institute (HEI), released this year, reads: “Air pollution is the fifth leading risk factor for mortality worldwide. It is responsible for more deaths than many better-known risk factors such as malnutrition, alcohol use, and physical inactivity. Each year, more people die from air pollution-related disease than from road traffic injuries or malaria.” The report likewise revealed that an estimated 1.2 million Indians died prematurely in 2017 due to ailments caused by air pollution.

The Indian government has since declared a public health emergency and initiated measures to address pollution sources. People have also been encouraged to use a good pollution-fighting mask and limit their exposure to bad air.

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