Every third child in Delhi has impaired lungs, a new study by the Centre for Science and Environment has revealed. Nationwide, there were 35 million chronic asthma patients in 2016.
The report attributed air pollution and global warming as the major reasons behind the increased risk to respiratory health.
“Global warming has extended the duration of the pollen season and altered the timing, production and distribution of aeroallergens. Both pollen and air pollutants have risen simultaneously in the environment, leading to an enhanced airway inflammation, thereby increasing the frequency of respiratory allergy and incidences of asthma,” said the report.
The whole of Northern India, including Delhi witnessed one of the worst spells of bad air quality recently when for days the area was enveloped by dense grey smog. Air quality was deemed hazardous for the public and schools were shut for a few days.
Lifestyle diseases biggest killer
The report also established that 61 percent of all deaths are due to lifestyle or non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Vibha Varshney, the lead writer of the report said that to achieve the mandated reduction in premature deaths it is high time to address environmental factors.
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“Targeting environmental risk factors is essential if we want to meet the Sustainable Development Goal 3.4, which mandates a one-third reduction in premature deaths due to lifestyle diseases by 2030.”
Sunita Narain, director general of CSE said that WHO though identifies the major risk factors for NCDs— alcohol, tobacco, poor dietary intake and lack of physical activity, it is, however, not calling out the real enemy—foods that are high in salt, sugar, fat and low in nutrition.
“It wants to play it as safe as possible so that it does not have to confront the real players and demand a restraint on their products, not through voluntary action but through government policies that restrict and restrain and put a premium on nutrition, not consumption,” added Narain.