Air we breathe: in dire need of a lifeline

Dr. Prasanna Cooray,

reporting from New Delhi

Air pollution, both indoor and outdoor, is now among the forerunners of disease and death worldwide. A recently computed list of risk factors for causation of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) have revealed that household air pollution, smoking and ambient particulate matter pollution as the first, second and sixth leading causes of NCDs in the South Asian region. Close on heels of the release of Global Burden of Disease (GBD) report, which tracks deaths and illnesses from all causes across the world every 10 years, these findings were revealed at a Dialogue Workshop, jointly organized by the Center for Science and Environment (CSE) New Delhi, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the US based Health Effects Institute (HEI), held in New Delhi. Dr. Aaron Cohen, principal epidemiologist of the HEI and co-chair of the GBD Ambient Air Pollution Expert Group presented the GBD results in a nutshell.

According to the findings of the study, annual premature deaths caused by particulate air pollution have increased by six times worldwide since 2000. During the same period, deaths resulting from air pollution have increased by 300 per cent, while about 65 per cent of these deaths have occurred in Asia. These statistics reveal the recent upheaval caused by air pollution on human health and its impact on Asia, the world’s most populous and the ‘polluted’ region.

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