New Delhi | Pratyush Ranjan: The menace of pollution in metropolitan cities like Delhi and Mumbai is giving an exponential rise to a serious situation of Coronavirus in the country, according to Dr Arun Sharma, Director, National Institute of Implementation Research and Non-Communicable Diseases, ICMR.

Talking to Jagran New Media Senior Editor Pratyush Ranjan in an exclusive interview Dr Sharma told that if we had taken timely steps to reduce air pollution, most of the bacterial, viral, and fungal infections including coronavirus could have been avoided. It has been proven that the transmission of COVID-19 is higher in polluted cities.

Researches done in Italy, China, and the United States proves the relationship between coronavirus and pollution. For example, in northern Italy (where more industrial work is done), higher cases of Coronavirus were reported. However, due to less pollution in southern Italy, its impact was less. Also, reducing air pollution in European countries helped in controlling tuberculosis and pneumonia levels in children below five years.

Dr Sharma also suggested that people have to reduce pollution at the state and individual level to avoid many dangerous diseases that may arise in the future. This can be achieved by improving ventilation inside and outside our houses.

More COVID-related deaths at places where pollution levels are high:

In a Harvard University study, it is revealed that in areas where air pollution is more, deaths from COVID-19 were also higher. On the contrary, where pollution was less, the infection spread less and the death toll was also low. This claim was made by a nationwide study in America in which 3080 counties of the US were analyzed. The study claimed that if Manhattan had reduced its average pollution particles by one microgram per cubic meter in the last 20 years, there would have been 248 fewer deaths.

Long term danger of facing pollution

According to Francesca Dominici, the director and study author of the Harvard Data Science Initiative, if a person has been experiencing more pollution for 15-20 years, his/ her chances of death from Coronavirus will be 15 per cent higher than those living in less polluted places.

Pollution in Delhi fatal

According to the Central Bureau of Health Intelligence report, the situation in India remains worrying in the case of pollution. The condition of Delhi, Haryana, and its adjoining states is bad. The report stated that the number of deaths due to respiratory diseases has increased rapidly in Delhi, Haryana and Uttarakhand. A three-fold increase in such deaths was seen in Delhi from 2016-2018.

Air pollution accounted for 68.47 per cent of the total deaths. Delhi is considered to be the 10th most polluted city in the world and the top polluted capital according to World Capital City Racking by Swiss organization IQAir. Ironically, this is the situation when Delhi’s air has improved by 15 per cent from 2019 to 2020.

University of Chicago report on pollution in India and Delhi

In a study by the Energy Policy Institute of the University of Chicago, it is reported that India’s 1.4 billion population lives in places where the average level of particulate pollution exceeds World Health Organization (WHO) standards. At the same time, 85 per cent of its population lives in places where the pollution level is higher than the standard set by India itself. The report stated that the pollution level in Delhi is dangerous. If this remains the case, the average age of people will be reduced by 9.4 years.

Posted By: Sugandha Jha