Create uproar over lack of clean air to breathe: experts

For a safer future: Schoolchildren take out a silent protest to raise awareness of the alarming rise in air pollution. Exposure to pollutants makes people vulnerable to diseases.  

The importance of having clean air, the impact of air pollution on women’s health and how it is leaving them more vulnerable to diseases was discussed by a panel of experts in the city.

“People have to start demanding clean air. There has to be a uproar about it,” said Dr. Jeanine D’Armiento, a professor of anesthesiology and director of the Center for Molecular Pulmonary Disease in Anesthesiology and Physiology and Cellular Biophysics at Columbia University’s Medical Center.

She said women who inhaled biomass smoke were exposed to the brown carbon released by combustion. Dr. D’Armiento said people should resist from getting involved in discussions that claim there is not enough data to prove the harmful effects of air pollution.

“Women are exposed to outdoor air pollution, indoor air pollution and frequently exposed to toxic chemicals as occupational hazards. Their system works differently from their counterparts,” said Dr. Qamar Rahman, dean of research and professor at Amity University, Lucknow. Dr. Rahman’s research has focussed on chemical and biological aspects of the toxicity of occupational and environmental particulate air pollutants such as fibers, particles and nanoparticles. She said at a time when India is going through rapid urbanisation, industrialisation and transport expansion, some realities have remained unchanged. She said, “For example, women still cook using cow dung cakes. There is a huge gap between the rich and the poor.” Dr. Rahman said indoor air pollution, which women are exposed to, is mainly due to poor ventilation, cooking with solid fuels and being amid smoke all the time.

The panel of experts also discussed the growing co-relation between exposure to pollutants and cancer, especially breast cancer. They said when any kind of fuel is burned, the combustion is a common source of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). “It has been shown that PAH is a compound associated with increased breast cancer risk,” said Dr. Jasmine McDonald, an associate professor of epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and co-director of the Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences at Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The experts said research and science at hand should be taken seriously and focus should be on prevention. The panel discussion was organised by Columbia Global Centers based in the city.

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Printable version | Sep 23, 2021 6:17:22 AM |

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