There is no safe threshold for exposure to pollution: AIIMS

December 24, 2015 12:00 am | Updated March 24, 2016 11:45 am IST - NEW DELHI:

Just how much is the winter smog affecting your health and impacting your life span. Doctors at the country’s premier All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) have given a prognosis: “There is no safe threshold for exposure to pollution.’’

“Ground level smog where ozone is an important component can react with tissues in our body and can cause inflammation and changes in heart rate in only a few hours. These changes may cause heart attacks and sudden cardiac arrest in sensitive populations,’’ noted Dr. Randeep Guleria, Head Department of Pulmonary Medicine and Sleep Disorders, AIIMS. This was presented at a public lecture on air pollution and health organised on Tuesday at AIIMS.

Doctors also noted that those living close to major roadways – exposed to higher levels of pollution - have thicker heart muscle and increase in thickness is similar to having high blood pressure.

Sources of ozone include vehicles, refineries, factories and power plants.

Clinical studies presented at the lecture noted that – a 10 mg/m3 increase in mean 24-hour PM2.5 concentration increases the risk for cardiovascular death by -- 0.4 to 1.0 per cent. Also a 10 mg/m3 increase during the preceding day contributes on an average to the premature death of -- one susceptible person / day in a region of 50 lakh people.

Air pollution’s long term adverse health effect includes increase in cardiovascular death (to an even greater extent than short-term exposures).

Most susceptible population includes -- older people, those with pre-existing heart disease and diabetics.

``Particulate matter (PM) is a significant source of heart-damaging air pollution,’’ noted Dr. Guleria

PM is a combination of tiny particles and liquid droplets that contain ingredients such as acids, chemicals, metals, and organic matter

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