Daily Archives: May 10, 2013
Air pollution is now the fifth largest killer in India, says newly released findings of Global Burden of Disease report
- Findings released by the scientists behind the study at a Dialogue Workshop organised by Centre for Science and Environment, Indian Council of Medical Research and US-based Health Effects Institute
- Annual premature deaths caused by particulate air pollution have increased by six times since the year 2000
- With one fifth of global deaths, India shows the greatest impacts of outdoor air pollution
- Globally, air pollution-related deaths have increased by 300 per cent since 2000. About 65 per cent of these deaths occur in Asia
- CSE’s national air quality analysis shows half of urban population breathes air with particulate levels that exceed the permissible limit. One third of urban Indians live in critically polluted areas
CSE’s health survey in Delhi shows majority of Delhiites say air pollution has worsened and blame rising number of vehicles for it
New Delhi, February 13, 2013: Outdoor air pollution has become the fifth largest killer in India after high blood pressure, indoor air pollution, tobacco smoking, and poor nutrition – says a new set of findings of the Global Burden of Disease report. The India and South Asia-specific findings were officially released here today at a Dialogue Workshop jointly organised by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), Indian Council of Medical Research and the US-based Health Effects Institute.
The Global Burden of Disease (GBD) report is a world-wide initiative involving the World Health Organization which tracks deaths and illnesses from all causes across the world every 10 years. The new findings were released by Aaron Cohen, principal epidemiologist of the Health Effects Institute and co-chair of the GBD Ambient Air Pollution Expert Group.
The report says that in 2010, about 620,000 premature deaths occured in India from air pollution-related diseases. GBD has ranked air pollution as one of the top 10 killers in the world, and the sixth most dangerous killer in South Asia. In fact, particulate air pollution is now just three places behind indoor air pollution, which is the second highest killer in India. “This is a shocking and deeply disturbing news. This calls for urgent and aggressive action to protect public health,” said Sunita Narain, director general, CSE.
Among the others who attended the release and participated in the discussions were Kesav Desiraju, secretary, Union ministry of health and family welfare; Sanjiv Kumar, environment secretary of Delhi; Vinod Raina, head, Department of Medical Oncology, AIIMS; SK Chhabra, head, Department of Cardiorespiratory Physiology, Vallabhbhai Patel Chest Institute; Randeep Guleria, head, Department of Pulmonary Medicine, AIIMS; Sanjeev Bagai, CMD, Nephron Clinic and Health Care; and Professor Kalpana Balakrishnan of the Sri Ramchandra Medical College and Research Institute.
Daniel Greenbaum, president and Robert O Keefe, vice president, Health Effects Institute, also shared the findings of the GBD assessment.
The India-specific analysis has been done using estimates of air pollution exposure at the national level and incidence of leading causes of deaths, aided by ground-level measurements, satellite remote sensing and models to capture population exposure. The GBD assessment follows a rigorous scientific process involving over 450 global experts and partner institutions including the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, the WHO, the Health Effects Institute, the University of Queensland, Australia, Johns Hopkins University, and Harvard University.
The key new findings — India
- Shocking increase in Indian death toll: Air pollution is the fifth leading cause of death in India, with 620,000 premature deaths in 2010. This is up from 100,000 in 2000 – a six-fold increase.
- Massive loss in healthy years: Air pollution is the seventh leading cause behind the loss of about 18 million healthy years of life due to illness. It comes after indoor air pollution, tobacco smoking, high blood pressure, childhood underweight, low nutritional status, and alcohol use.
- Respiratory and cardiovascular diseases key reasons for air pollution-induced premature deaths: These diseases include stroke (25.48%), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (17.32%), Ischemic heart disease (48.6%), lower respiratory infections (6.4%), and trachea, bronchus and lung cancer (2.02%).
The key findings – South Asia and the world
- Increase in death toll: Air pollution related diseases cause 3.2 million deaths worldwide every year. This has increased from 800,000, last estimated by GBD in the year 2000 – a whopping 300 per cent increase. About 74 million healthy life years are lost annually.
- Ranked among the top 10 killers in the world: In South Asia, air pollution has been ranked just below blood pressure, tobacco smoking, indoor air pollution, poor intake of fruits and diabetes. Everyone – rich and poor – is vulnerable.
- Two-thirds of the death burden from outdoor air pollution occurs in developing Asia: In 2010, particulate air pollution in Asia led to over 2.1 million premature deaths and 52 million years of healthy life lost, which is two-thirds of the worldwide burden. Killer outdoor air contributes to 1.2 million deaths in East Asia where economic growth and motorization are taking over, and 712,000 deaths in South Asia (including India) which is at the take-off stage. This is much higher than the combined toll of 400,000 in EU 27, Eastern Europe, and Russia.
CSE analysis exposes severe air pollution trends in India
In the wake of the GBD findings, CSE has analysed the latest air quality data available from the Central Pollution Control Board for the year 2010. Of the 180 cities monitored for SO2, NO2 and PM10, only two — Malapuram and Pathanamthitta in Kerala — meet the criteria of low pollution (50% below the standard) for all air pollutants.
Trends in polluted cities
- Close to half the cities are reeling under severe particulate pollution while newer pollutants like nitrogen oxides, ozone and air toxics are worsening the public health challenge.
- Vulnerable urban population: Half of the urban population breathes air laced with particulate pollution that has exceeded the standards. As much as one third of the population is exposed to critical levels of particulate pollution. Smaller and more obscure cities are amongst the most polluted.
- More cities in grip of PM10: About 78% cities (141) exceed the PM10 standard. 90 cities have critical levels of PM10; 26 have the most critical levels, exceeding the standard by over three times. Gwalior, West Singhbhum, Ghaziabad, Raipur, and Delhi are the top five critically polluted cities.
- More cities in grip of NO2: About 10% of the cities (19) exceed the NO2 standard. Of these, about nine have critical levels. Howrah, Barrackpore, Badlapur, Ulhasnagar and Asansol are the top five critically polluted cities.
- State of SO2 pollution: One city — Lote in Maharashtra — exceeds the SO2 standard. Moderate levels of SO2 are noted in Jamshedpur and Saraikela Kharsawan in Jharkhand; Chandrapur, Badlapur, Ulhasnagar, and Pune in Maharashtra; Ghaziabad and Khurja in UP, Dehradun in Uttarakhand and Marmagao and Curchorem in Goa.
- Cities with double-trouble — particulates and NO2: Howrah, Barrackpore, Asansol, Durgapur, Sankrail, Raniganj, Kolkata (West Bengal), Badlapur and Ulhasnagar (Maharashtra) have critical levels of NO2 and PM10. Delhi, Haldia, Bicholim, Jamshedpur, Meerut, Noida, Saraikela Kharsawan, Jalgaon and Raipur have high levels of NO2 as well as critical levels of PM10.
- Worsening trend since 2005: The PM10 monitoring network has doubled between 2005 and 2010 from 96 to 180 cities. During this period the cities with low level of pollution have fallen from 10 to 2, while the number of critically polluted cities has increased from 49 to 89. In 2005 about 75% of the cities exceeded the standard. In 2010, 78% are exceeding the standard. NO2 monitoring has expanded from 100 cities in 2005 to 177 in 2010. In 2005 only one city had exceeded the standard for NO2; in 2010, 19 cities have exceeded the standard. The tightening of the national ambient air quality standards has also changed the air quality profile of the cities.
- Stabilisation in some cities: Some mega cities that have initiated some pollution control action in recent years have witnessed either stabilisation or some decrease in the levels.
CSE survey captures angst and worries of Delhiites
CSE has carried out a rapid survey of citizens of Delhi on their perception of air pollution and health and the mitigation strategies. This has exposed overwhelming popular concern about air pollution.
- The majority of respondents — about 64% — have said air pollution is worsening.
- 79% have attributed the problem of air pollution to growing number of vehicles.
- 74% have said that air pollution causes respiratory problems and respiratory symptoms have increased in frequency in the last two months. About 14% say this has increased school absenteeism amongst children
- Close to half have said that their doctors have mentioned air pollution as one of the causal factors.
- Close to one third of the respondents have said that they are aware of the new GBD estimates.
- About 26% know that the World Health Organisation and International Agency on Cancer Research have reclassified diesel emission as a class 1 carcinogen, putting it in the same class as tobacco smoking for its strong link with lung cancer.
- There is strong support for improvement in public transport, walking and cycling. About 47% have supported reduction in car numbers. About 62% have said there should be restraint on diesel cars and SUVs.
Says Anumita Roychowdhury, CSE’s executive director-research and advocacy and head of its air pollution team: “Days of doubts and complacency are over. There is hard evidence now to act urgently to reduce the public health risks to all, particularly children, elderly, and poor. No one can escape toxic air. India will have to take aggressive action to reverse the trend of short-term respiratory and cardiac effects as well as long-term cancer and other metabolic and cellular effects. Remember – toxic effects like cancer surface after a long latency period. Therefore, exposure to air pollution will have to be reduced today to reduce the burden of dieses.”
What should India do:
- Make National Ambient Air Quality Standards legally binding in all regions: The national air quality planning and city action plans need a roadmap for each source of pollution and aggressive measures. Impose penalty on cities if air quality standards are violated.
- Prepare stringent vehicle technology and fuel quality roadmap, encourage in-use vehicle management: It is shocking that the terms of reference of the new committee that has been set up to propose the next Auto Fuel Policy Roadmap does not even include public health in its agenda. Make urgent timelines for Euro V and Euro VI emissions standards. Restrain dieselization.
- Control and cut increase in vehicle numbers by scaling up public transport, non-motorised transport, compact city planning and car restraint measures.
- Strengthen implementation plans for critically polluted notified areas
- Account for health cost in decision making: Valuation of acute and chronic illnesses must be linked to decision on air pollution control measures.
- Put in place a public information system on daily air quality with health advisories and implement smog alert and pollution emergencies measures.
For more details, please contact Papia Samajdar at firstname.lastname@example.org / 9811906977.
Yet for a long time, we humans have lived our lives on this planet as if we own the Earth.
To make way for societal developments, we have destroyed many natural habitats to many plant and animal species. We have been carrying out deforestation and clearing of natural grasslands at alarming rates, for reasons such as to extract resources (eg. paper, tin, etc) from the earth, or simply to get more land for developments (eg. farming, building of cities, landfills).
In the process, we have striped other creatures of their habitats and even lives. With the destruction of forests, we are also hindering the earth’s ability to clean itself of excessive pollutants and carbon dioxide (which contributes to global warming), resulting in a less ideal climate for both ourselves and other living organisms.
To feed our increasing population, we have been stretching the earth beyond its limits, through activities such as over-farming and over-fishing. Unrelenting, we continue to seek to challenge these limits, through inventing new ways of producing more for our greedy species. We introduced the use of man-made chemical fertilizers, artificial hormonal injection in farm animals, and genetic engineering.
In the process, we have introduced many man-made and harmful substances into other species, the environment and ourselves (unwittingly, we have also tainted the quality of our food supplies, and bring harm to our bodies). And many of these substances have impact still beyond our full comprehension.
The ecological balance we have with other living organisms has been greatly upset. Many plant and animal species have gone extinct as a result of man’s actions. And this is even before we have even discovered their existence!
The loss of the numerous plant species also mean goodbye to important sources of medicinal plants and herbs that could potentially be cures to deadly diseases plaguing mankind today.
GREEN SOLUTION. GET GREEN.
We need to be more responsible and proactive in protecting the earth’s ecological balance. This environmental consciousness should be present, whether we are dealing with government policies, or industrial and economic activities, or in our daily living.
It should not be a matter of convenience, or doing whatever we can within the limits of our societal or economic constraints. In fact, considerations for the environment should come first. For without a planet to live in, there would be no room for societal or economic life.
As an individual is you should not over-consume (not just food, but other goods and services as well). In addition, you should also encourage those around you to do the same. By consuming just what we need, we reduce the strain we place on the earth as a source of our resources.
Keep an organic garden, or even start an organic farm, and help reintroduce more life (beyond humans and our needs) on this planet. Use organic products instead of products that release harmful chemicals into the environment. Donate regularly to forest or wildlife conservation efforts. Or better still, protect a piece of forest land under your name. Respect the lives of other living creatures (plants and animals alike, not just pet dog or cat), and also educate your kids on the importance of doing so. In this way, you would have built the foundations for a more environmentally-conscious generation.
All these efforts will contribute now and in the long run to keeping this earth sustainable.
The principle of Reduce Reuse Recycle cannot be over-emphasized.
As we reduce our consumption (especially of goods), the world would have less need for energy and resources (especially raw materials), and in the process produce less pollution (whether via the manufacturing industries, or the disposal of waste created through consumption).
REDUCE – As we reduce our waste, we would need to use less energy and resources for handling our unwanted waste. There would be less pollution arising from the landfills and the incinerators.
REUSE – Reusing helps us to reduce our consumption of new materials, as well as help to reduce the waste that we create as an entire population.
RECYCLE – Recycling allows us to reuse the materials in unwanted items to make new items. In this way, valuable resources that would otherwise contribute to pollution (eg. non-biodegradable materials or materials that release harmful substances when burnt) can be diverted away from landfills and incinerators and given a new lease of life in new products. Beyond environmental benefits of recycling, recycling also benefits the human economy and can be political.
GREEN SOLUTION. GET GREEN.
Reduce, Reuse and Recycle!
As with the earth’s resources, the sources of energy (in the form of oil, coal, natural gas, etc) on earth are currently finite.
While humans have started exploring other sources of “sustainable energy”, such as palm oil, there are inherent environmental problems with the cultivation of some of these energy sources. Until the day the human population is able to effectively make use of the infinite, sustainable, and green sources of energy available to us, it is important that we conserve our energy resources.
GREEN SOLUTION. GET GREEN.
There are many energy saving tips to be followed for the home, the office, when driving, and in fact, wherever we go. Adopt them now before it is too late.
Saving energy also means less pollution.
The extraction of energy producing materials such as oil and coal from the earth generates substantial pollution. In turn, the use of these energy materials in driving our power stations, factories and automobiles produces large amounts of pollution and contributes in large ways to global warming.
So the less energy we use, the less pollution we create!
The earth’s resources are limited.
As the human population continues to grow and technological advancements (eg. mass production, transportation) help make more material goods more readily available to people all over the world, we consume more and more natural resources. This rate of consumption is especially apparent in developed countries.
More and more trees are cut down to produce more and more paper for the growing number of offices worldwide. More oil, coal and other natural fuels are extracted from the earth to drive our factory machineries, our automobiles (including our airplanes) and our homes. However, the world’s supplies of oil and coal will not last forever, and our use of these fuels is contributing to polluted air, acid rain and global warming.
In fact, according to a World Wildlife Fund report, humans are using more than 20% more natural resources than the Earth can produce. And between 1970 and 2000, the populations of land, freshwater and marine species have fallen by about 40%. At this rate, we would outstrip the earth’s capacity to support life very soon.
With deforestation and fewer trees on earth, there are fewer plants to absorb excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, accelerating the impact of global warming. In turn, global warming worldwide have led to climate changes, and phenomenon such as serious flooding and drying up of originally forested land, leading to further loss of precious forests, and destruction of habitat for more plant and animal species.
Over-fishing have almost wiped out some fish populations in the waters, and reduced the number of fishes in the ocean significantly.
At this rate, the earth would not be able to sustain life (including ours) on this planet for long.
GREEN SOLUTION. GET GREEN.
We need to evaluate what we really need, as opposed to what we want. Is the new car really what we need? If not, then don’t buy it.We need to learn to consume only what we need, and be considerate in our consumption. In other words, remember that we are not the only ones that the earth has to provide for. Also consider buying eco-friendly products instead. The use of such environmentally friendly products helps you reduce your carbon footprints, and even allow you to contribute to a greener planet.
In our day-to-day activities, we actually release substantial amount of toxic substances into the environment.
Have you ever think about the shampoo, soap and cleaning detergent that you use. Many of them contain chemicals that are washed down the sinks and pipes, into drains, rivers, reservoirs or even the sea.
Think about the fast-food lunch you had. In the process of producing the bread, meat patty and salad for the burger, chemicals in the form of pesticides, man-made fertilizers and even hormones are released into the lands, water and air. The wrappers used in packaging the meal is bound for the landfills and incinerators (because it is very hard to recycle them). In turn, harmful gases are released when the wrappers (as well as other waste) are buried or burnt.
Think about the car that you drive to work, or even the bus or cab that you take to your office. These vehicles emit greenhouse gases (contributing to global warming) and toxic substances like lead (harmful to living things, including the human body) into the atmosphere.
And we have yet to reach the part on the amount of chemicals and poisonous gases produced by factories and industries, in the process of manufacturing the various items we use (eg. electronics, clothes, paper and plastic products, furniture, packaged food etc), or extracting energy resources (eg. oil, coal, etc) from the earth.
In our modern day life, it may be hard to leave zero trace of toxic substances, or create zero pollution in our activities. So many of the things that we use on a daily basis contain some form of chemicals, or are produced through the use of some chemicals. Despite the pollution caused, we would still need to travel to work, whether by private or public transport. And we definitely need to consume food.
GREEN SOLUTION. GET GREEN.
Consider switching to more natural cleaners and personal products, such as natural detergents, or organic detergents, as well as organic shampoos and lotions. Made of natural substances instead of man-made chemicals, minimal harmful chemicals are used in the process of their production. At the same time, these natural products are ready bio-degradable and do little harm even when released into the environment, because they are found in the natural environment in the first place.
Switch to organically grown food if you can. Organically grown food is grown without the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers that would harm the environment, as well as hormones or genetic re-engineering. What’s more, organically grown food are so much healthier, because they are free of carcinogens and heavy metals (as a result of the synthetic chemicals), as well as more nutritious. And keep away from fast-food!
Also, what does going green mean in practice is to drive less, and use the public transport instead. You can even opt for carpool service in case the option is available. Automobiles are one of the single largest sources of air pollution on earth today, and the harmful gases released contribute to global warming and climate changes. By taking public transport (such as buses and trains), you are actually helping to reduce the number of automobiles on this earth, and hence the amount of air pollution produced by these vehicles.