New Delhi: Air pollution in Delhi continued to choke its residents on Monday with the air quality index (AQI) touching the dangerous 408 mark.
The drop in air quality prompted environment experts to urge the government to issue health advisories.
The AQI of Delhi was second only to Lucknow, whose figure stood at 421, making it the city with the poorest air quality.
“The situation is really very bad and the quality of air in the coming days is going to be the same following the smog and stagnancy in the air,” Vivek Chattopadhyaya of green think tank Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) told reporters.
He urged the government to issue health advisories, as several people will suffer from breathing issues if the air quality remains the same.
The AQI of Delhi’s adjoining areas also remained severe at the 405 mark.
Residents complained of breathing problems due to the poor air quality.
Priyanka Rai, a student of Delhi University who has to travel from west Delhi’s Punjabi Bagh to Delhi University in the north, said, “I have never had breathing problems, but now I feel pain in my chest every time I step out of my house.”
Anjali Mirchandani of the South Delhi Municipal Corporation said, “I, being an asthma patient, have been using a mask every day while travelling to my office. My visits to doctors have increased.”
Researchers have found that even a few hours’ exposure to ambient ultrafine particles common in air pollution may potentially trigger a non-fatal heart attack.
Myocardial infarction is a major form of cardiovascular disease worldwide. Ultrafine particles (UFP) are 100 nanometres or smaller in size. In urban areas, automobile emissions are the primary source of UFP.
For the study, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, researchers investigated the effects of UFP exposure and heart attacks using the number of particles and the particle length and surface area concentrations at hourly intervals of exposure.
“This study confirms something that has long been suspected–air pollution’s tiny particles can play a role in serious heart disease. This is particularly true within the first few hours of exposure,” said the study’s first author Kai Chen, Assistant Professor at Yale University in the US.
UFP constitute a health risk due to their small size, large surface areas per unit of mass, and their ability to penetrate the cells and get into the blood system, the study said.
The researchers were interested in whether transient UFP exposure could trigger heart attacks and whether alternative metrics such as particle length and surface area concentrations could improve the investigation of UFP-related health effects.
The research team examined data from a registry of all non-fatal MI cases in Augsburg, Germany.
The study looked at more than 5,898 non-fatal heart attack patients between 2005 and 2015.
The individual heart attacks were compared against air pollution UFP data on the hour of the heart attack and adjusted for a range of additional factors, such as the day of the week, long-term time trend and socio-economic status.
“This represents an important step toward understanding the appropriate indicator of ultrafine particles exposure in determining the short-term health effects, as the effects of particle length and surface concentrations were stronger than the ones of particle number concentration and remained similar after adjustment for other air pollutants,” said Chen.
“Our future analyses will examine the combined hourly exposures to both air pollution and extreme temperature. We will also identify vulnerable subpopulations regarding pre-existing diseases and medication intake,” Chen added. (IANS)