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Global experts call for better coordination between center, states to curb air pollution


New Delhi: Global experts on Wednesday called for better coordination between the central and state governments in India to collectively tackle the problem of air pollution.

Experts, who have been researching on the measures to curb air pollution across the world, also urged the Indian government to ensure that the states and the monitoring agencies take the primary responsibilities being given to them as part of their role towards the environment.

“Air pollution control is a collective effort. There needs to be unique policy and program on the ways to curb it down. There has been a gap between the states and the Center on such issues, unlike the US, where one policy is collectively implemented by every governing body,” said Lesley Onyon, the WHO’s South East Asia Regional Advisor for Occupational and Environmental Health.

She was speaking at a discussion on air pollution titled “Your Breath is Your Health” at the American Center here.

She said that while a law is being implemented, it has to be ensured that it is properly implemented in terms of its administrative and civil sides.

About lack of law to control household air pollution, considered one of the major reasons behind breathing problems, Onyon said household air pollution was responsible for 40 percent of lung diseases in India.

“Household air pollution causes 39 percent of chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD), 39 percent of Ischemic Heart Diseases (IHD) and 37 percent of strokes. So, it becomes vital for India to come up with a stringent law,” said the WHO officer.

Srikant S. Nadadur, program director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Research Science, emphasized on having harsh laws on crop burning, entry of cars from one state to another and on burning of wood in winter, which has become one of the major reasons for the increase of carbon in the air.


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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,"

AIIMS launches research project on air pollution's impact on health.

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.

India, air pollution, WHO, diwali, Pollution, Delhi, egypt, air quality
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.

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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)