Gurgaon bureaucrats gasp for breath as air quality dips

Around 68 per cent of the officials have shortness of breath

November 20, 2015 12:00 am | Updated November 17, 2021 01:03 am IST - GURGAON

To go with Climate-warming-UN-COP21-India,FOCUS by Trudy Harris 
In this November 3, 2015 photo, Rigzen (R) wears a mask as he heads to his morning class at a college past a long line of vehicles moving slowly during rush hour in a smoggy morning in New Delhi. India's capital, with 18 million residents, has the world's most polluted air with six times the amount of small particulate matter (pm2.5) than what is considered safe, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The air's hazardous amount of pm2.5 can reach deep into the lungs and enter the blood, causing serious long term health effect, with the WHO warning India has the world's highest death rate from chronic respiratory diseases. India, home to 13 of the world's top 20 polluted cities, is also the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases behind the United States and China. In Delhi, the air pollution is due to vehicle traffic including cargo trucks running on low-grade diesel, individual fires that residents burn in winter, crop being burnt by farmers in neighboring states, and construction site dust. Burning coal in power plants is also major contributor that is expected to increase hugely in the coming decades to match electricity needs of the ever-growing city and its booming satellite towns. AFP PHOTO / ROBERTO SCHMIDT

To go with Climate-warming-UN-COP21-India,FOCUS by Trudy Harris 
 In this November 3, 2015 photo, Rigzen (R) wears a mask as he heads to his morning class at a college past a long line of vehicles moving slowly during rush hour in a smoggy morning in New Delhi. India's capital, with 18 million residents, has the world's most polluted air with six times the amount of small particulate matter (pm2.5) than what is considered safe, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The air's hazardous amount of pm2.5 can reach deep into the lungs and enter the blood, causing serious long term health effect, with the WHO warning India has the world's highest death rate from chronic respiratory diseases. India, home to 13 of the world's top 20 polluted cities, is also the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases behind the United States and China. In Delhi, the air pollution is due to vehicle traffic including cargo trucks running on low-grade diesel, individual fires that residents burn in winter, crop being burnt by farmers in neighboring states, and construction site dust. Burning coal in power plants is also major contributor that is expected to increase hugely in the coming decades to match electricity needs of the ever-growing city and its booming satellite towns. AFP PHOTO / ROBERTO SCHMIDT

: Around 68 per cent of Gurgaon officials have shortness of breath, out of which 57 per cent have below normal lung capacity while 48 per cent have lung function suggestive of asthma.

The worrying picture of poor respiratory health compounded by poor air quality was revealed in a survey released on Wednesday. November 18 is observed as World Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases (COPD) day. The survey was conducted by a group of pulmonologists. “The survey results are certainly shocking, especially for the officials who were mostly unaware of the problem earlier. We hope that survey shall serve as an eye opener for the people as well as healthcare stakeholders that will help point out the extent of the problem and importance of raising awareness on the same,” says Himanshu Garg, Head of Department, Respiratory Critical Care, Artemis Hospital.

In the survey, 21 per cent respondents reported having cough at-least few days a month and 8 per cent of them felt that their routine work was hampered due to poor exercise capacity.

“Considering the rising problem of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases across country, the survey certainly raises serious questions on outdoor as well as indoor air quality of Gurgaon,” says Pratibha Dogra, Consultant Pulmonologist.

Data suggest that outdoor air pollution (such as ambient air pollution or traffic-related air pollution) and indoor air pollution (such as second-hand smoking and biomass fuel combustion exposure) are associated with the development of COPD. Situation is particularly bad in NCR, where the recent pollution levels have been reported to much higher than the acceptable limits on most days of the year sometimes as high as 35 times the normal limits.

“The official estimates clearly indicate exponential rise in respiratory diseases in the NCR region. Despite this, very little attention has been paid to the respiratory diseases by the authorities and the medical community. The study clearly shows the impact pollution is having on the respiratory health of the residents of Gurgaon,” added Dr. Garg.

“In Haryana, the constant smoking of Hookah and smoking beedi amongst the lower worker class have led to problems. In Gurgaon particularly, the on-going construction at various locations also leads to pulmonary congestion”, said a heath official, not willing to be identified.

COPD has emerged as one of the serious health issues. According to World Health Organization estimates, 65 million people have moderate to severe COPD and it is estimated to be the third leading cause of death by 2030. In India, approximately 15 million suffer from COPD and it causes four times more deaths in metro cities as compared to US and Europe.

“The early symptoms of COPD are chronic cough, bringing up sputum, and breathlessness during physical activity such as exercise or walking up a flight of stairs,” Dr.J.C. Suri, Chest physician, Safdarjung Hospital said. “People might discount these symptoms as a normal part of getting older, but they can be signs of a serious disease that needs treatment. Therefore it should not be neglected.”

The worrying picture of poor respiratory health compounded by poor air quality was revealed in a survey conducted by a group of pulmonologists.

In the survey, 21 per cent respondents reported having cough at least

few days a month

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