Health Ministry issues pollution advisory for smog hit Delhi NCR residents

People have been advised to remain indoors if they have breathing difficulty and also asked to try to keep children indoors as much as possible

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New Delhi: With the onset of winter in Delhi each year, we see a rise in air pollution in the city. A combination of post-harvest crop burning, firing of brick kilns and reduced wind speed increases the level of particulate matter in the air, thereby causing the smog that we see. Air pollution has become one of the major public health problems in India, especially in the northern regions of the country and requires sustainable public health solutions. Pollution is now the largest risk factor for death. In fact, pollution kills more people than HIV-AIDS, TB and malaria put together. In economic terms, the global cost of pollution in terms of hours not worked, premature deaths, health spending and eroded quality of life has been estimated at Rs 26760 crores a year.

Air pollution affects all stages of life, starting from pre-conception to old age and reduces the number of years lived in full health by aggravating asthma attacks, eye and skin disorders, and increasing the risk of development of high blood pressure, obesity, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, psychiatric disorders and frailty.

The recent Global Burden of Disease study estimates show that about 25 lakh deaths in India in 2015 were causally linked to pollution, constituting 28% of all pollution-related deaths around the world. Of these, about 18 lakh deaths were linked to air pollution. India has half of the top 20 polluted cities in the world, including Delhi.

As per Dr Vivekanand Jha, Executive Director, The George Institute for Global Health India suggests that solutions must be adopted to yield long-term benefits which requires structural changes and a multi-pronged approach. “We need better urban planning starting with proper land-use assessment, reducing major transport activity close to communities, relocating traffic sources (roads, airports) from crowded areas, avoiding the mixing of industrial and residential areas, making better roads, reducing uncovered areas in cities by planting more grass and plants, improving transport technologies, and increasing awareness of the societal burden imposed by air pollution,”he says.

Meanwhile, the Union Health Ministry has issued a health advisory in view of the severe air pollution in the city.

People have been advised to remain indoors if they have breathing difficulty and also asked to try to keep children indoors as much as possible. They have been also asked to avoid morning walk or any other strenuous outdoor activity that increases breathing rate.

The Health Ministry has also asked the people to drink plenty of water and fluids besides avoid smoking. Also, they have been asked to minimize the use of deodorants and room sprays as much as possible. They have been told to avoid the areas with smoke or heavy dust.

The persons suffering from any heart ailments or chronic respiratory disease or asthma, have been asked to continue medication as advised by physician. In case of any difficulty in breathing, increase in breathing rate, palpitations or severe bout of coughing and/or sneezing, they have been advised to consult for medical assistance.