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Silent killer: the effects of air pollution on human life

A momentary burning feeling in your eyes, breathing in bitter smoke for a few seconds or minutes each day, experiencing breathing difficulties, these ‘temporary’ issues brought on by extended exposure to air pollution may actually be silent killers. It is past time for us to take action to lower the Air Quality Index much below 100.

Here’s why an Air Quality Index of above 100 should scare you and the governmental decision-makers as well as jolt you out of your slumber. Air pollution is linked to a wide range of illnesses and health conditions. Dementia, heart diseases, impact on the foetal health of a pregnant woman, lung diseases, these are just some of the common problems; and the causes go way beyond firecrackers and vehicular pollution.

One of the key factors contributing to the air quality’s continued decline has been identified as stubble burning. In the winter, India frequently burns its snags, particularly in the rice fields close to Delhi. According to IQAir’s World Air Quality Report, during this season, smoke from burning stubble accounts for up to 45% of Delhi’s pollution. According to the same report, 97% of cities worldwide fall short of the most recent WHO air quality standards.

Of the 15 most polluted cities in Central and South Asia in 2021, 12 were in India. Delhi saw a 14.6% increase in PM2.5 concentration in 2021.

A significant increase in heart ailments and heart attacks in young Indians has been linked to increasing pollution in urban centres as the pollutants are blocking our arteries. Doctors said air pollution results causes blockage in arteries and veins, resulting in reduced blood flow to and from organs. This may cause hypertension. Intake of too many pollutants can also cause blood clots.

Air pollution is currently shortening the life expectancy of people in Delhi by nearly 10 years, according to a new report from the University of Chicago. It’s no secret that the increase in air pollution has taken an extraordinary toll on both the quality and longevity of life in India.


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