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10 Quick Facts About Delhi Pollution Problem

Delhi pollution problem is a matter of grave concern for the authorities in the capital, especially before Diwali and the upcoming winter season. Supreme Court insists upon following strict environmental regulations by the government in order to prevent the release of toxic substances such as carbon, sulfur and coal.

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Smog New Delhi
Vehicles move through morning as smog covers New Delhi. voa

According to a current report by the World Health Organization (WHO), among the 20 most contaminated cities on the earth, 13 are in India, in which Delhi tops the list.

Every year air pollution in New Delhi causes smog during the winters

Here are some important issues and steps which are being taken to control the Pollution level in Delhi.

  • The Supreme Court has banned the sale of firecrackers in Diwali, India’s largest festival, to deal with the air pollution problem in Delhi, that causes smog during the winters.
  • The Court has declared 24th October as a deadline for the government to regulate the use of petcoke fuel.
  • Every day nearly eight residents are dying in India’s capital due to air pollution.
  • Despite the authorities in the capital setting rules to clear the air by cutting traffic, air pollution continues to be a severe threat to the lives of the residents of the capital.
  • A new fuel, petroleum coke, which is the replacement of coal, has further enhanced the problem of the air pollution.
  • Petroleum coke, also known as Petcoke is found in tar sands in the pits of Canada. These are some of the dirtiest crude oil sources. At US Gulf Coast, it is refined where petrol and diesel are removed. Petcoke is the left out substance that produces further harmful substances such as carbon, sulfur and heavy metal emission such as coal.
  • It is exported to the countries like India and China where it is used as a fuel. Thus the developed counties manage to make money out of this harmful waste material due to lax environmental laws in China and India.
  • China has reduced its dependence upon petcoke since 2014. Now India is the largest importer of petcoke.
  • In February, Supreme Court has ordered the government to ban the use of petcoke or put a limit on the sulphur emission in the process.
  • The regulations have limited the sulfur emissions to 4,000 ppm but the regional environmental agencies confirm the presence of 72,000 ppm of sulphur in the petcoke.

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UN Should Name and Shame Countries Failing to Protect Doctors in War Zones: Aid Expert

Leonard Rubenstein, head of Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition, said impartial investigations and reforming both military training and practice could improve safety for health workers

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Health workers
The ruins of a hospital in Idlib province in northern Syria are seen in this image provided by Doctors Without Borders Feb. 15, 2016. VOA
  • International law bounds all warring parties to respect and protect medical personnel, but the provision is largely disregarded
  • At least 80 people were killed in attacks on health facilities in 14 countries in the first three months of 2017, according to the World Health Organization
  • An expert Leonard Rubenstein said impartial investigations and reforming both military training and practice could improve safety for health workers

New Delhi, August 19, 2017: The United Nations should name and shame countries that fail to protect health workers in war zones and audit what steps they take to keep medics safe, Leonard Rubenstein- an aid expert- said on Thursday.

International law bounds all warring parties to respect and protect medical personnel, but the provision is largely disregarded, with hospital and medics often deliberately targeted in conflict areas, aid agencies say.

Last year, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution calling for an end to impunity for perpetrators, but little has been done to implement it, said Leonard Rubenstein, head of Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition, a network of aid groups.

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“Since 2016, we have had complete international paralysis,” he told an event in London, blaming the stalemate on divisions between Russia and other members of the Security Council.

At least 80 people were killed in attacks on health facilities in 14 countries in the first three months of 2017, according to the World Health Organization.

More than half the attacks were in Syria.

Rubenstein said impartial investigations and reforming both military training and practice could improve safety for health workers — but nations had to be pushed into adopting them.

“The only way to get them to do it is to shame them,” he told a panel at the Overseas Development Institute via video link, ahead of World Humanitarian Day on Aug 19.

In order to do so, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights should issue annual reports highlighting what steps countries have taken to implement resolutions made the year before, Rubenstein said.

“It’s not the most powerful mechanism that we have — but it is the only one that we (have) really got at the moment, and I think that would go a long way to forcing the states to take the actions that they have committed to do,” he said. (VOA)

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Simple Therapy Proves to be Effective in Helping Women against Gender-Based Violence: Study

It is estimated that more than a third of women around the world have been exposed to such violence

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Gender-based violence
Women gather at a clinic at Dagahaley camp in Dadaab in Kenya's northeastern province, June 8, 2009. VOA
  • An intervention based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) was more effective than traditional therapy in helping women struggling with gender-based violence
  • WHO will begin distributing the treatment more broadly to areas with little mental health infrastructure
  • cognitive behavioral therapists work to reveal thoughts and behaviors that currently contribute to a patient’s troubles

US, August 17, 2017: An intervention based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) was found to be more effective than traditional therapy in helping women struggling with depression or anxiety after experiencing gender-based violence, research shows. It is estimated that more than a third of women around the world have been exposed to such violence, which includes rape, sexual assault, and intimate partner violence.

The intervention, developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) to help anyone facing adversity, had already been proven effective for Pakistanis struggling emotionally after exposure to terrorism.

Psychologist Richard Bryant at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, developed the program with colleagues there and others from WHO and the World Vision Institute. To test its effectiveness, 421 women in Nairobi, Kenya, were treated with either five sessions of the CBT program administered by a lay health care worker or were referred to area health care centers for standard treatment administered by nurses.

The nurses had four more years of education than the lay workers, who had no previous experience with mental health care. A program simple enough for lay volunteers to administer is important in areas with little mental health infrastructure.

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Reducing symptoms

The study, published Tuesday in PLOS Medicine, found that women who received the CBT treatment showed 20 percent fewer anxious and depressive symptoms five weeks after the end of treatment than the control group, and 45 percent fewer than they did before treatment. Following this work, WHO will begin distributing the treatment more broadly to areas with little mental health infrastructure.

“The vast majority of people in the world don’t get access to evidence-based care for mental health problems,” Bryant told VOA. “So there really is, from a global mental health perspective, an urgent need to have a different way of thinking about how we deliver care. And we can’t be relying on specialists. We can’t be relying on lengthy sessions, lengthy treatment durations. We can’t be relying on systems that require long trainings to upskill people.”

CBT was developed in the 1970s. Unlike psychoanalysis, which aims to reveal the historical, root causes for a patient’s problems, cognitive behavioral therapists work to reveal thoughts and behaviors that currently contribute to a patient’s troubles.

Bryant said this particular intervention was designed to be as easy to administer as possible and focuses on changing behavior. The WHO treatment coaches patients to be active, engage in social networks, and problem solve. Bryant said much of the cognitive side of CBT was left out, not only to make it easier to train practitioners but also to make the intervention shorter. That allows treating more people with less money. Traveling to treatment can be expensive and dangerous in many places, and missing work is costly, so a treatment that requires fewer sessions is beneficial to patients.

Avoiding stigma

One challenge in helping people who have been exposed to gender-based violence is finding them. Rape and abuse carry a heavy stigma, and it can be dangerous for women to speak out.

Consequently, the program wasn’t advertised as being about gender-based violence. Researchers instead looked for women experiencing anxiety and depression. However, during treatment, they found that four out of five participants had experienced some form of gender-based violence — most often from an intimate partner.

“Really, I think what this tells us is that when you go to many of these settings where we know that gender-based violence and other forms of violence are so prevalent, you can actually assist these people — alleviate many of their mental health problems in an effective way — without actually creating the problems of identifying them and exacerbating the social stigma,” Bryant said.

Since the completion of the study in 2015, 1,400 volunteer counselors in Kenya have been trained in CBT, and 3,500 women have received the treatment.

Researchers in Australia have been leaders in CBT, Bryant said. In the early 2000s, researchers at Australian National University developed MoodGYM, free software that allows anyone with an internet connection to receive online CBT treatment at any time.

Numerous studies have shown that patients who complete internet-delivered CBT fare as well as those who receive treatment in person. However, those self-administering CBT without external encouragement are much less likely to complete a full course of treatment. (VOA)

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Oscar Mayer: This Hot Dog Recipe is New and without ‘added Nitrites’

Processed meats such as hot dogs and bacon were linked to an increased risk of colon cancer

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Oscar Mayer hot dogs
Oscar Mayer classic uncured wieners are for sale at a grocery store in New York, June 28, 2017. Oscar Mayer is touting its new hot dog recipe that uses nitrite derived from celery juice instead of artificial sodium nitrite. VOA
  • Oscar Mayer is touting its new hot dog recipe that uses nitrite derived from celery juice instead of artificial sodium nitrite
  • It is best to think of processed meat made with natural ingredients as no different from meat made with artificial nitrites
  • The meat industry says it’s mainly sodium nitrite that companies currently use to cure meats such as hot dogs, cold cuts, and bacon

New York, July 4, 2017: Backyard cooks looking to grill this summer have another option: hot dogs without “added nitrites.”

Are they any healthier?

Oscar Mayer is touting its new hot dog recipe that uses nitrite derived from celery juice instead of artificial sodium nitrite, which is used to preserve the pinkish colors of processed meats and prevents botulism. Kraft Heinz, which owns Oscar Mayer, says sodium nitrite is among the artificial ingredients it has removed from the product to reflect changing consumer preferences.

The change comes amid a broader trend of big food makers purging ingredients that people may feel are not natural.

But nitrites are nitrites — and the change makes little difference — according to those who advise limiting processed meat and those who defend it.

Kana Wu, a research scientist at Harvard University’s school of public health, said in an email that it is best to think of processed meat made with natural ingredients as no different from meat made with artificial nitrites.

Wu was part of a group that helped draft the World Health Organization report in 2015 that said processed meats such as hot dogs and bacon were linked to an increased risk of colon cancer. She notes WHO did not pinpoint what exactly about processed meats might be to blame for the link.

Known carcinogens

One concern about processed meats is that nitrites can combine with compounds found in meat at high temperatures to fuel the formation of nitrosamines, which are known carcinogens in animals. It’s a chemical reaction that can happen regardless of the source of the nitrites, including celery juice.

But the U.S. Department of Agriculture caps the amount of artificial nitrites that can be added to meats to prevent excessive use, said Andrew Milkowski, a retired Oscar Mayer scientist who consults for the meat industry. Meat makers also add ingredients to processed meat like bacon that help block the formation of nitrosamines, he said.

Though the terms nitrates and nitrites are used interchangeably, the meat industry says it’s mainly sodium nitrite that companies currently use to cure meats such as hot dogs, cold cuts and bacon.

For Oscar Mayer hot dogs, the packages now list ingredients like celery juice that has been treated with bacterial culture. That turns the naturally occurring nitrates in celery juice into nitrites that serve a similar purpose.

While the nitrites derived from celery juice are no better, the switch may nevertheless help address negative consumer perceptions, said Milkowski, who also teaches at the University of Wisconsin’s department of animal sciences.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest agrees nitrites from natural sources aren’t that different from artificial nitrites in processed meats. But the group has cited the WHO report in calling for a cancer warning label on processed meats, regardless of how they’re made. It also says nitrite-preserved foods tend to be high in salt and should be limited or avoided anyway. The American Cancer Society also suggests limiting processed and red meat, citing a variety of reasons.

The meat industry has contested the WHO’s finding, saying it is based on studies that show a possible link but don’t prove a cause, and that single foods shouldn’t be blamed for cancer. Many health experts also say there’s no reason to worry about an occasional hot dog or bologna sandwich.

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‘Right direction’

And while natural preservatives may not make hot dogs any healthier, they fit with the growing preference for ingredients like celery juice that people can easily recognize.

“I think it’s a step in the right direction,” said Kristin Kirkpatrick, a dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic.

An interesting wrinkle worth noting is that federal regulations require processed meats without added nitrites or nitrates to be labeled as “uncured” and to state that they have no nitrates or nitrites added — except those naturally occurring in the alternative ingredient. That’s the language you’ll now find on Oscar Mayer hot dog packages, though the products previously only had added nitrites.

The meat industry has contested the required language of meat being “uncured,” because it says the products are still cured, albeit with nitrites derived from other ingredients. (VOA)