Air pollution is the fifth leading cause of death, says CSE study

India has seen an increase in vector-borne diseases like dengue and malaria due to climate change

December 16, 2015 12:00 am | Updated November 16, 2021 04:08 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

Pollution experts wearing masks and holding placards at Lodi Garden to spread awareness in New Delhi on Sunday.— Photo: Shanker Chakravarty

Pollution experts wearing masks and holding placards at Lodi Garden to spread awareness in New Delhi on Sunday.— Photo: Shanker Chakravarty

Sample this: Air pollution is the fifth leading cause of death in India, 37.7 million Indians are affected by water-borne diseases annually and approximately 1.5 million children die due to diarrhoea alone. Worse because of climate change India has seen an increase in vector-borne diseases such as dengue and malaria.

This is according to the Centre for Science and Environment’s publication -- Body Burden 2015: State of India’s Health – which examines and dissects linkage between environment and health.

“A number of public health catastrophes – arising largely out of environmental reasons - are staring at the people of India in the face. While the debate over polluted air and how to control it rages on in the national Capital, people have also had to contend with a host of other health challenges this year, ranging from strange pathogens to heightened risk from lifestyle ailments,’’ noted CSE director general Sunita Narain.

“The report shows us that we must focus on prevention and not treatment. We need to improve the environment, reduce the disease burden and save money in private or public healthcare”, added Ms. Narain.

The book explores what CSE calls ``the very tangible link between our environment and our health.’’

``In fact, environmental degradation’s first assault is on our bodies and this is one of the biggest reasons why we try to protect the environment. But the linkage is complex and is often disputed. We need to join the dots. We are often not able to take crucial decisions as we really do not know what is happening to our health and how is it linked to the environment. We don’t know and so we don’t care. There is a conspiracy of silence,” noted Ms. Narain.

The book also looks at the threat of lifestyle, food and environmental contamination that is leading to a range of deadly non-communicable diseases. ``There is a growing evidence now that non-communicable diseases are triggered by consuming the worst kind of food which is full of fat, salt and sugar. We are losing our health because of the processed food industry. Worse, government have stopped regulating in favour of nutrition and nature,’’ noted CSE.

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