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‘Air pollution causing heart & respiratory diseases in West Bengal’

Kolkata Air Pollution

By Climate Kahani: Exposure to air pollution, both short term and long term, is causing heart and respiratory diseases in West Bengal. This has been revealed in a recent report released by Climate Trends and IIT Delhi. The study also revealed that the upper respiratory symptoms (URS) were more affected by the respondents than the lower respiratory symptoms (LRS).

Impact of air pollution on public health

Climate Trends has produced this report in technical collaboration with the Center for Atmospheric Science (CAS) and IIT Delhi’s Center of Excellence for Research in Climate Change and Air Pollution (CERCA). The purpose of this first of its kind study is to collect evidence of health effects due to air pollution in different sections of the population of West Bengal under this study in 7 areas of West Bengal namely Kolkata, Howrah, Asansol, Haldia, Barrackpore, Bardhaman and A field survey was conducted in Barasat to assess the ground level impact of air pollution on public health. During the survey, the health effects of different levels of exposure to air pollution have been linked through detailed interactions with 1155 people.

Air pollution has been recognized as the world’s biggest environmental risk. The Global Burden of Disease (GBD 2019) has declared air pollution as a leading cause of death and disability in India. West Bengal has 7 non-retainment cities, so air pollution remains a threat to the people of this state. However, in India, there is only a limited number of evidence available at the ground level to prove this.

Aarti Khosla, Director, Climate Trends, said, “As air quality monitoring systems are strengthened and pollution mitigation measures are in place, there is a need to create a national public health data to enable science-based decisions. This study strongly highlights the need for policy-level action to control air pollution in India’s urban as well as rural areas.”

Upper respiratory symptoms

The data reveals that the average concentration of PM2.5 during the last 1, 2, 5, 10 and 20 years at various locations covered under the study is more than the the safe limit prescribed by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) at 40 micrograms per cubic metre. This suggests that people have been exposed to poor quality air for a very long time. According to the study, while the problem of lower respiratory symptoms is common in urban areas, more cases of upper respiratory symptoms have come to light in rural areas. If we look at urban areas, the most effect of URS was seen in people up to 20 years of age. At the same time, the greatest effect of LRS was found in people aged 50 years and above in both urban (8%) and rural (8.36%).

Women more prone to URS

The study also revealed that women are significantly more prone to upper respiratory symptoms than men in both rural and urban areas, indicating that indoor pollution is causing them a lot of damage. This also suggests that the long-term correlation increased over time for lower respiratory symptoms and a higher correlation was found with PM levels in the male population.

Sagnik Dey

Under the National Clean Air Program (NCAP), ambitious targets have been set for non-maintenance cities. The evidence shows why we need to expand our territory to protect the health of a large population in the state.

Firhad Hakim

Highlights of Air pollution in West Bengal study

  • The level of PM 2.5 was higher in urban areas than in rural areas. The average concentration of PM2.5 recorded during the last 1, 2, 5, 10 and 20 years at different locations covered under the study exceeded the safe limit of 40 micrograms per cubic meter prescribed by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). .
  • More cases of upper respiratory symptoms were found in urban areas (27.27%) than in rural areas (19.13%).
  • The effect of URS was highest (31%) in young people under 20 years of age.
  • In both urban (8%) and rural (8.36%) areas, the greatest effect of LRS was found in people 50 years of age or older.
  • Women were found to have significantly higher levels of URS in both rural 1.32% and urban 2.16%.
  • As far as the URS is concerned, professional people (48.6%), especially in rural areas, have developed more health-related effects than those in other occupational categories.
  • The effect of LRS was found to be significantly higher in professionals (29.17-40%) as compared to entrepreneurs and workers in both rural and urban areas.
  • Health outcomes of multivariate logistic regression models showed a significant (p<0.01) and strong correlation with short- and long-term exposure to ambient air pollution.
  • In both urban and rural areas, asthma showed the highest correlation coefficient (R2:0.95) and hypertension showed the lowest long-term correlation (R2:0.78). In addition, chest discomfort showed the highest (R2:0.95) association with sore throat and the lowest (R2:0.77) association with short-term exposure.
  • In urban areas, the prevalence of URS was higher among people with higher and middle socio-economic status, whereas in rural areas it was more prevalent among the people of middle and lower income groups.
  • The effects of long-term exposure (20, 10 and 5 years) to PM2.5 were observed in case LRS developed, and there was a significant positive association between the two. The prevalence of all symptoms has shown a disproportionate increase in long-term exposure among the rural population.
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