Delhi could have 13% less COVID cases if not for air pollution, feels IMA

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Representative image
Representative image

New Delhi [India], November 7 (ANI): Attributing the rise of the COVID-19 cases in Delhi to its air pollution, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) on Saturday said that at least 13 per cent of it is due to the poor air quality.

In the last 10 days, the national capital has witnessed a sudden sharp spike in air pollution levels.

"In the last few days, Delhi has reported more than 6,000 COVID cases per day. At least 13 per cent of the rise has been estimated to be due to pollution," said Dr Rajan Sharma, National President, IMA.

He added air pollution is one of the most important social determinants of health. "The air pollution damages the inner lining of the lungs and hence increases the severity of the COVID-19 infection. Increased air pollution leads to an increased inflammatory response. Patients with respiratory diseases may find it difficult to breathe even if the AQI (air quality index) is between 50 and 100," said Dr Sharma.

According to the Meteorological Department, the air quality index in Delhi remained above 350 on November 7, way above the safe limit of 50.

Health experts said that poor air quality results in the aggravation of asthma, COPD, high BP, and even cardiovascular diseases; merely walking could result in complications due to the high concentration of particulate matter (PM) 2.5 in Delhi's air. N-95 masks and air purifiers may not provide full-time protection, feel experts.

The World Health Organization's ambient air pollution data has shown that the levels of PM 10 and PM 2.5 in Delhi are way above the normal.

The annual PM 10 level was found to be 229 microgram/M3 and PM 2.5 was found to be 112 microgram/M3.

Dr Sharma said that certain measures can be adopted by people to help reduce pollution -- use of public transport, buying energy-efficient vehicles, planting a garden wherever possible, making use of solar energy and using recyclable products.

"There is also a graded response action plan in Delhi and NCR, which includes measures such as a prohibition on entry of trucks into Delhi, ban on construction activities, the introduction of odd and even scheme, closure of brick kilns, ban on diesel generator sets, garbage burning in landfill, etc.," said Dr R V Asokan, Honorary Secretary General of IMA, adding that implementation of long-term measures is important.

Banning of crackers and stubble burning in the hinterland are helpful public health measures, he said.

It may be noted that a recent study done by Maulana Azad Medical College in 3019 individuals revealed that nearly 34.35 per cent of the participants were found to have lung impairment. (ANI)