Wednesday December 19, 2018

AIIMS Prepares Research Project on Air Pollution’s Impact on Health

"People with respiratory problems are increasing. Apart from asthma patients, there were fresh cases who visited AIIMS owing to pollution,"

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AIIMS launches research project on air pollution's impact on health.
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As the National Capital Region (NCR) battles poor air quality during winter, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) has started a research project to study the effects of air pollution on public health.

“Delhi’s air quality deteriorates every year during Diwali owing to multiple reasons like stubble burning and bursting of crackers. However, last year, when the air pollution level escalated, we noticed a surge in patients visiting AIIMS,” Dr Karan Madan, Associate Professor, Department of Pulmonary Medicine and Sleep Disorders, AIIMS, who is part of this research programme, told IANS.

So the country’s premier medical research and referral hospital decided to conduct empirical research on the impact of air pollution on health.

For the study, titled “DAPHNE” (Delhi Air Pollution Health And Effects), AIIMS researchers have developed an air pollution sensor technology.

“This sort of study has not been earlier conducted in India. The device has been developed in a belt format which is very light and it gives clear continuous pollution data. The belt can be wrapped around the waist or on the arms,” Madan said.

air pollution, Pollution, pollutants
In this Sept. 19, 2018 photo steam and cooling towers of a lignite power plant are reflected in a pond in Peitz, eastern Germany. VOA

He explained that the device is wireless and directly sends data to a monitoring system through a Global Positioning System (GPS). AIIMS is primarily focusing on children suffering from pulmonary diseases like asthma, bronchitis and other breathing troubles — as well as pregnant women.

The device, which is to be worn by children suffering from asthma or bronchitis, will give an idea of the exposure level of air pollution when one is travelling in the school bus, at home, when in school, or outdoors while playing.

“On pregnant women, we are trying to see how pollution might affect the unborn child. We are also trying to figure out the birth rate issue from this study owing to poor air quality,” Madan noted.

Funded by the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology, and Medical Research Council, Britain, the project is a collaborative effort of the the two nations.

In India, apart from AIIMS, Sri Ramachandra University, Chennai, IIT Delhi and GTB Hospital are also associated with the research.

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A man walks in front of the India Gate shrouded in smog in New Delhi, India. VOA

“While the data on asthma in children will be compiled at AIIMS, GTB Hospital will be following the cases of pregnant women,” Madan said.

The research process, initiated last year, began on a pilot basis two months ago. Dr Madan stated that around 10 children have been given this belt across Delhi NCR.

“So far, the project is going good and the readings have come accurate. The study will conclude next year and the report will be released,” he added.

Also Read- Actress Alia Bhatt Wants People To Wait For Her Marriage

Talking about the rise in health hazards among residents in the National Capital Region and its surrounding areas, Madan said that AIIMS has witnessed an increase of 15-20 per cent in the number of patients with cases of respiratory problems like coughing, heavy breathing, asthma symptoms, and burning sensation in throat and nose.

“People with respiratory problems are increasing. Apart from asthma patients, there were fresh cases who visited AIIMS owing to pollution,” he stated. (IANS)

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Exposure To Air Pollution Linked To Breast cancer: Study

Government can plan for new designs for industrial and commercial facilities to cut down on the occupational exposures.

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Air pollution shortens life by more than one year in India. Wikimedia Commons

Women working near busy roads are at high risk of developing breast cancer, due to traffic-related air pollution, researchers have warned.

The team, from University of Stirling in Scotland, analysed the case of a woman who developed breast cancer after spending 20 years working as a border guard at the busiest commercial border crossing in North America.

The woman was one of, at least, five other border guards who developed breast cancer within 30 months of each other and, at another nearby crossing, a cluster of seven other cases was noted.

Pollution, pollutants, India, air pollution, WHO, diwali
India’s Rashtrapati Bhawan, or the Presidential Palace is partly visible due to smog as traffic plies on Rajapth, the ceremonial boulevard in New Delhi. VOA

According to Michael Gilbertson, the findings “infer a causal relationship” between breast cancer and very high exposures to traffic-related air pollution containing mammary carcinogens. A link between nightshift work and cancer was also identified.

“This new research indicates the role of traffic-related air pollution in contributing to the increasing incidence of breast cancer in the general population,” Gilbertson said.

The group of women all developed a cancer believed to have been caused by exhaust fumes in what researchers have branded a ‘new occupational disease’.

There is a one in 10,000 chance the cases were a coincidence, the study published in the journal New Solutions said, because the cancers were all so similar and close together.

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Breast cancer cell, Wikimedia Commons

A review of previous research confirmed that BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes — which try to stop tumours growing — can be “silenced” by exposures to dioxins and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons – both found in exhaust fumes.

BRCA2 gets rapidly degraded in the presence of aldehydes – also components of exhaust fumes.

Also Read: Chemotherapy May Not Be Needed To Treat Breast Cancer: Study

“There is much more research to be undertaken,” Gilbertson said. “But we now have plausible mechanisms for inferring how the BRCA1/2 tumour suppressors in this highly-exposed border guard became dysfunctional and likely contributed to the ongoing epidemic of sporadic, early onset, premenopausal breast cancer among her colleagues.

“With this new knowledge, industry and government can plan for new designs for industrial and commercial facilities to cut down on the occupational exposures to traffic-related air pollution,” Gilbertson said. (IANS)