As per the latest PCB data for the first week of August in the city, PM10 levels above 60 micrograms were recorded at 15 stations out of 31, and PM 2.5 levels were above 40 at Kokapet station. (Representational Image: PTI)
HYDERABAD: Air pollution is a significant factor for respiratory illnesses in the country, Union Minister of State for Health Prof. Satya Pal Singh Baghel reiterated in the Lok Sabha recently.
The minister that 76.8 per cent of the country's population was exposed to annual population-weighted mean PM (particulate matter) 2.5, which was greater than 40 micrograms per cubic metre, as specified by National Air Quality Standards. PM 2.5 is the deadliest variety, as it can penetrate deep into body tissues due to its small size.
During Question Hour, Minister Baghel quoted a study by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in collaboration with the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) and the Institute of Health Matrix and Evaluation (HME).
As per the latest PCB data for the first week of August in the city, PM10 levels above 60 micrograms were recorded at 15 stations out of 31, and PM 2.5 levels were above 40 at Kokapet station.
Dr Viswesvaran Balasubramaniam, consultant interventional pulmonology, told Deccan Chronicle that air pollution is equally harmful both indoors and outdoors.
"One should be careful as regards household air pollution stemming from the burning of biomass as it is a major cause of respiratory diseases. "
He said doctors were more concerned about the particulate matter in all the components of air pollution because it could enter the airways and lungs and cause conditions like asthma, coughing, difficulty in breathing, and COPD and lung abnormalities like cancer. Moreover, there is a higher risk of heart attacks. "Studies have also found that pregnant women when exposed to air pollution deliver premature babies," Dr Balasubramaniam said
Doctors said there was also a rise in seasonal allergic asthma and bronchitis in recent times due to the increase in air pollution levels and also people living in congested places, which lead to pneumonia.
Dr T. Pramod Kumar, a pulmonologist from Chest Hospital, said instances of COPD had increased by 20 per cent and affected non-smokers as well. The figures of non-smokers suffering from lung cancer have been on the rise. This is basically because of exposure to pollution and genetic predisposition, he said.
According to Dr Kumar, many doctors said that strict regulations, regular pollution checks and ensuring that vehicle emission levels did not cross the limit could help.