Air Pollution in India – A Serious Issue

A recent worldwide survey discovered that 22 out of the 30 most polluted cities in the world are in India.

Air Pollution – A Global Health Concern

The poor air quality of India has become very challenging. Hazardous air quality in countries like India leads to high death rates. In the present time, with the emergence of rapid globalization and urbanization in developing nations, the countries are facing severe health issues due to ambient air pollution. Indian urban cities are becoming increasingly congested because people are migrating to cities for education, employment and better quality of life. The increasing population has led to a rise in pollution levels due to the use of private cars, cutting of trees to widen roads, construction of new housing and public infrastructure to accommodate migrant workers.

Air Pollution in India

  1. Air pollution was the leading risk factor for premature death in India in 2019, accounting for nearly 18% of all deaths. 1.67 million deaths due to air pollution in India in 2019.
  2. Considered separately, ambient particulate matter (PM2.5) ranked as the 4th leading risk factor in India, and indoor / household air pollution (HAP) ranked 6th.
  3. As part of a worldwide survey by Swiss organisation IQAir, it was discovered that 22 out of the 30 most polluted cities in the world were in India.
  4. India recorded the highest annual average PM 2.5 concentration exposure in the world in 2019, as per the State of Global Air 2020 (SOGA 2020) report. India was followed by Nepal, Niger, Qatar and Nigeria in high PM 2.5 exposures.
  5. 100% of India’s population lives in areas where PM2.5 levels are above the WHO guideline for healthy air (10 μg/m3).
  6. There are 164 deaths per 100,000 people attributable to air pollution in India compared with 86 deaths globally.
  7. India is also among the top ten countries with highest Ozone (O3) exposure in 2019. O3 is a major respiratory irritant which is not released directly into the air but is formed in a complex chemical interaction between nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the presence of sunlight.
  8. As per SOGA report, Percentage of Deaths (by Cause) Attributed to Air Pollution in India in 2019 were as follows:
Health risks from indoor air pollution are likely to be more in cities in developing countries like India, especially where risks is related with solid fuel combustion coincide with risk associated with modern buildings. Daily exposure to many chemicals, most of which are present indoors, may contribute to increasing prevalence of asthma, autism, childhood cancer, medically unexplained symptoms, and perhaps other illnesses. The only good news for India though is that it has managed to reduce the number of people exposed to household air pollution. China reduced the percentage of its population exposed to household air pollution from 54% to 36%, while India reduced its percentage from 73% to 61% over the last decade. We need to take measures to silence this silent killer.
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Know Your Home Air

Gas heating systems, leaking chimneys, fire places emits carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and other harmful pollutants. Plastics and common household cleaners, paints, paint thinner often placed under the kitchen sink, release Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), when used and stored. Overheating of non-stick cookware releases toxic fumes. Pesticides we use in and around the home also release various chemical and semi-volatile compounds.


Harmful effects
Carbon monoxide causes headache, dizziness and fatigue. These often cause eye, nose, and throat irritation, nausea, and can also damage the liver, kidney, and central nervous system. Fine particles are produced during all kinds of combustion which lead to acute and chronic effects to respiratory and cardiovascular systems.

Pet dander and hair, carpet, rugs, upholstery furniture are main source of dust mites, fungus, and bacteria. A dirty filter of air conditioners acts as a reservoir for dirt, dust and other airborne contaminants that are continuously circulated back into your breathing air. Secondhand smoke from cigarettes, other tobacco products and mosquito coil emits VOC’s and formaldehyde and various particulate matters. CO2 released from our lungs is exhaled in the air which pollutes the air if the place is too crowded or there is less ventilation.


Harmful effects
All these can trigger coughing, nosebleeds, shortness of breath, dry mouth, vomiting,
digestive tract problems, depression, allergy and asthma attacks, and other respiratory illness.

Shower, faucets and other water sources are main cause of humidity and mold. Bathroom cleaners and personal care products like toothpaste, soaps, facial tissues, detergent, fabric softeners, air fresheners, deodorizers, hair sprays, disinfectants, are full of VOC’s and chemicals which emits harmful pollutants.


Harmful effects
Mold can cause allergic reactions, asthma and other respiratory ailments. VOC’s and toxic chemicals released in the bathroom can causes eye, nose, and throat irritation, nausea and respiratory problems. All these products release harmful pollutants while they are used also when they are stored.

A bedroom contains many sources of indoor air pollution. Mattress, pillow and blankets, soft toys, are the reservoirs of dust mites, fungi and bacteria. Furniture, carpets, paints and beauty product like hairspray, nail polishes, perfumes, deodorants etc off gas VOC, formaldehyde and toxic gases into the air.


Harmful effects
These pollutants make the air unhealthy which leads to allergy, asthma attacks, dizziness, headache, fatigue and other respiratory ailments.

Second-hand smoke
Second hand Smoke is a mixture of the smoke given off by the burning of tobacco products, such as cigarettes, cigars or pipes and the smoke exhaled by smokers. Secondhand smoke is also called environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). Passive smoking can lead to coughing, excess phlegm, and chest discomfort. NCI (National Cancer Institute) also notes that spontaneous abortion (miscarriage), cervical cancer, sudden infant death syndrome, low birth weight, nasal sinus cancer, decreased lung function, exacerbation of cystic fibrosis, and negative cognitive and behavioral effects in children have been linked to ETS. Secondhand smoke exposure commonly occurs indoors, particularly in homes and cars. Secondhand smoke can move between rooms of a home and between apartment units.

Guest Bathroom

Central heating and cooling systems and humidification devices
The air filter in your HVAC system is the front line of defense against poor indoor air quality. A typical central heating and cooling system circulates over 1,000 cubic feet per minute of air through the filter. This means the entire air volume in your house passes through the filter multiple times every day. A dirty filter, however, can actually make indoor air quality worse by acting as a reservoir for dirt, dust and other airborne contaminants that are continuously circulated back into your breathing air. In addition to driving up your utility bill, a clogged air filter will allow all that dust and debris that should be filtered out to be re-circulated back into your home. This can cause chronic allergies and especially be dangerous for people with asthma or other respiratory conditions.

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