If you live or work in an Indian metro, your life expectancy is 2.6 years* less than it would otherwise be. With Heart Disease, Lung Cancer, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or Strokes as likely causes of death, the “Working Dead’’ tell you exactly how their commute is killing them. And you.
*Data: WHO study 2016
Dr. Ashok Seth, Cardiologist“One fifth, yes, one in five heart related deaths in Indian cities happens due to air pollution. And that is alarming.”
That my friend, is a figure that should really scare us given that heart ailments themselves are a big killer in the country.
Microscopic toxins such as Sulphur Dioxide, Nitrous Oxides and Carbon Monoxide in the air cause an inflammation in the arteries, which leads to a deposit of cholesterol and increased risk of heart attacks. If you have pre-existing heart conditions your chances of death increase by about three percent says cardiologist Dr Ashok Seth.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmnary Disease
When your city fails your lungs, your lungs fail you from the inhaled toxins that cause those famous ‘black spots’ of tar seen during lung surgery. Of air pollution related deaths, 49 percent are by lung disease, not including lung cancer.
The toxins in the air, when inhaled, enter lung tissue via the blood stream, and mutate the tissues there.
You don’t need to smoke to get lung cancer. In fact according the the World Health Organisation, the chances of dying of lung cancer have increased to 33 percent simply because of air pollution.
While most of our cities have chronic pollution where the air quality is poor through the year, when pollution levels rise and become acute, the toxins thicken blood which leads to clots and eventually a stroke. Strokes can kill. Air pollution causes a 15 percent increase in death by blood stroke.
According to Sunita Narain of the Centre For Science and Environment, here is what a city like New Delhi needs to do to combat air pollution
- Transform its public transport system to dramatically reduce vehicular traffic.
- Go big on clean energy and stop the burning of ‘’pet coke’’ and ‘’ tyre oil’’ which are dirty fuels.
- Convert vehicles to electric or natural gas as was done in the past for CNG.
- Have strict enforcement of road dust laws to check construction
- Come up with a waste management pan so that landfills are not burning.
(FIT is launching its #PollutionKaSolution campaign. Join us by becoming an anti-air pollution warrior. Send in your questions, your stories of how to tackle air pollution and your ideas to FIT@thequint.com)
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