ibnlive » India

Feb 18, 2013 at 11:39am IST

Air pollution fifth leading cause of death in India, reaches 'critical' level

New Delhi: Even as China deals with crippling levels of air pollution, a new report has discovered that air pollution is the fifth leading cause of death in India. Delhi has been rated as one of the most critically polluted cities, and Chief Minister Sheila Dixit has admitted that the situation is out of control.

Air pollution is the cause of 6.2 lakh million premature deaths, which is a six-fold rise since 2000, according to a study in the medical journal 'Lancet'. It follows high blood pressure, indoor air pollution, tobacco smoking and poor nutrition as the other big killers in the country.

The most highly polluted areas, according to the study, are Delhi, Ghaziabad, Gwalior, Jharkhand's West Singhbhum district, and Raipur. "Out of the 180 cities that Central Pollution Control Board monitors today, more than 50 per cent have particulate levels that have officially been classified as critical and that translates into nearly 60 per cent of India's urban population living in those critically polluted cities," said Anumita Roychowdhury, Executive Director, Research, Centre for Science and Environment.

Air pollution is now causing more than 25 per cent of all stroke cases, a whopping 48.6 per cent heart disease cases and more than 17 per cent of Chronic OPD cases. It is also leading to more than 6 per cent of all lower respiratory infections.

"Studies have also suggested that there are 13000 new cancer cases every year and there is 2 to 3 per cent rise in lung cancer cases every year, so that shows how pollution is important in all diseases we develop. Pollution causes lung damage, and if you have a damaged lung you are much more prone to diseases like H1N1," said Dr Suranjit Chatterjee, Int Medicine, Apollo.

Experts say it is the vehicular pollution, which is the most severe air pollutant. With 7.5 million registered vehicles, and adding 1400 more every day, pollution level has risen to alarming level.

"Certainly pollution has risen. It is causing a lot of worry because the diesel cars keep increasing, and there is not enough wind blowing across Delhi. These are factors quite beyond our control, and to discipline people "don't buy cars, don't burn diesel" is a little tough," said Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit. Environmental experts say Delhi's CNG gains have also been reversed over the years.