New Delhi: The Indian Medical Association has said regarding concern about the adverse effect of air pollutants on US President Barack Obama’s health that short-term exposure to air pollutants does not result in fatal outcomes and the effects are usually mild and reversible. The IMA said short-term exposure is only hazardous to children, the elderly and individuals with chronic diseases of the respiratory or circulatory system.
Citing the short stay of President Obama in the national capital, IMA president Dr A. Marthanda Pillai said, “Those who are living in Delhi may have long-term exposure effects of pollution and they need to safeguard themselves.”
IMA secretary-general Dr K.K. Aggarwal said President Obama has earlier visited countries with high levels of air pollution, such as Afghanistan, Poland, China, Brazil, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Afghanistan has similar pollution levels. During his last visit to India, he had visited Agra, which had substantial particulate matter in ambient air. “The pollution levels in Delhi are comparable to Beijing and many other countries. Even though the US has very low pollutant levels, the air quality index has touched unhealthy levels in some periods. Therefore it is unscientific to assume a different effect in Indian cities as short-term exposure will have only minor effects on a healthy individual. It’s unfair to link air pollution with a possible health hazard for Obama,” said Dr Aggarwal. The IMA said the latest air quality data from the Environmental Protection Agency shows that air quality in various parts of the US had exceeded cut-off values for adverse health effects.
In California, air quality had reached as high as 473. The AQI in Delhi has been ranging between 250 and 300. Air quality index (AQI) is a composite indicator of air quality developed by Environment Protection Agency. An AQI of 0-50 is good, 51-100 is moderate, 101-150 is unhealthy to sensitive groups and 151-200 is unhealthy to all. An AQI of 250-300 is very unhealthy and can cause significant aggravation of heart or lung disease.