The smog in Delhi has reached an alarming level yet again, this year. Dr. Depak Talwar has said that the air can aggravate the condition of people suffering from Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD).
The statement is a cause for concern because a recent study by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has stated a dangerous find: every third child in Delhi has impaired lungs.
The study by CSE comes close on the heels of the dense air pollution that engulfed Delhi NCR in November. Such was the situation that it led to a public outcry, and forced authorities to come up with emergency measures to fight the crisis.
“Every third child in Delhi has impaired lungs, while air pollution causes 30% of all premature deaths in the country,” the CSE report stated. The report claims that there is a vital link between environment and health.
Dr. Deepak Talwar spoke on similar lines earlier this year. In July, while speaking in the Respiroraty Conclave Conference 2017, he said: “In India, 47% people suffer from hypersensitivity pneumonitis, and it is the most common form of ILD.”
According to Dr. Deepak Talwar, “ILD is big, and there are 300 reasons that can cause Interstitial Lung Disease.”
Health experts are of the opinion that the air quality in Delhi can cause respiratory illness when exposed for a long time. As a preventive measure, the Delhi government issued a health advisory and asked people to stay indoors during early morning and late evening hours.
There are potential mechanisms by which air pollution could cause, exacerbate, or accelerate the progression of certain forms of ILD via pulmonary and systemic inflammation as well as oxidative stress. Exposure to polluted air has an impact on the health of people who are already suffering from breathing disorders, such as bronchial asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, interstitial lung disease, cystic fibrosis, lung cancer, etc.
Air pollution exposure has been linked extensively to respiratory-related diseases, such as asthma, and impaired lung function growth. Hypersensitivity pneumonitis is caused due to inhalational exposure to toxic air that is made of noxious gases and organic antigens.
The signs and symptoms of hypersensitivity pneumonitis may vary. Acute hypersensitivity pneumonitis is the most common form. A short period exposure to a huge amount of causative substance can lead to this condition that directly affects your immune system. The symptoms are visible within 9 hours. In the absence of further exposure, the patient can heal within a few days. In around 5% people, it develops into a chronic disease.
Lack of timely treatment can lead to fatal complications, such as:
• Permanent damage to lungs, that diminishes the organ’s capacity caused by severe fibrosis and damaged ability to oxygenate the blood
• Pulmonary hypertension caused by damage to blood vessels in the lungs
• Inflammation of the lungs can cause more stress to the heart, and lead to heart failure
“Children breathe more rapidly and are more likely to breathe through their mouths, which increases the number of pollutants they inhale. Ultrafine particulates such as PM2.5 enter the bloodstream and travel to the brain. These damages the blood-brain barrier — a thin membrane that protects the brain from toxic substances — and cause neuroinflammation,” Dr. Krishnan Chugh, a senior pediatric pulmonologist at Fortis Gurgaon told HT.
While residents of Delhi are reeling under such an environmental crisis, there seems no solution that can bring down the pollution level of the city. Health experts like Dr. Deepak Talwar, Dr. Krishnan Chugh, and others are of the opinion that authorities should deploy workable and effective ways to meet this health emergency.
The World Health Organization’s guidelines say 25 is the maximum level of PM2.5 anyone can safely be exposed to over a 24-hour period. PM2.5 — the fine pollution particles which are often linked to higher rates of diseases like chronic bronchitis, lung cancer, and heart disease — regularly topped 500 this week, at one point going over 1,000.