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‘Severe’ AQI in Delhi: Doctors identify groups most vulnerable to air pollution

by Pragati Singh

On Saturday, as Delhi’s Air Quality Index (AQI) reached “hazardous” levels, a doctor from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) said that certain patients are likely to bear the brunt of the high level of pollution.

According to Dr. Ambuj Roy, professor of Cardiology at AIIMS, the elderly, patients with lung and heart problems, Covid-recovered patients, and pregnant women are the most vulnerable to problems caused by polluted air.

“Air pollution is now a much bigger threat than Covid-19,” said Roy.

His statements were backed by Dr Dhiren Gupta from the paediatrics department of Delhi’s Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, who said that they have seen a sudden rise in the exaggeration of symptoms in those who were asthmatic and allergic.

“They are requiring more inhalation therapy. Right now, we have three patients admitted with severe asthma attack,” Gupta was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

“This usually did not happen in past, especially when they have regular inhalers. So, definitely, pollution is affecting the kids who are predisposed for asthmatic attacks. We are also seeing that children who were absolutely normal are also facing respiratory problems,” he added.

The doctor further said that now, children who are getting respiratory tract infections because of pollution, are facing more respiratory problems. They are also suffering from irritation in the eyes, he said.

“PM value is so bad that it is affecting the eyes, causing irritation. It also leads to the clouding of the brain. Babies and children become irritable because of the pollution and pollution is quite severe,” said Gupta.

This comes as the AQI in Delhi reached 530 on Saturday morning.

Dr Arun Mohanty, professor of cardiology at Gangaram said that such air quality causes tremendous health hazards to the population. “It is riskier to ones who have already existing cardiac disease and other chest problems,” he said.

“Patients suffering from Interstitial Lung Disease (ILDs), Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is also under risk zone. It is shocking but the fact is 10 to 15% of children are asthmatic, they are suffering from allergic bronchitis. It is dangerous for people who have recovered from Covid-19 too because they have compromised lungs,” Mohanty said.

He said that air pollution results in more heart attacks as well since it leads to more blood vessels clogging. “It causes more respiratory troubles and produces more thrombosis (the formation of a blood clot) in people,” he said.

Prior to this, AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria had stated that air pollution could lead to more severe cases of Covid-19 as it has a huge effect on respiratory health, especially among those who have lung diseases and asthma.

“As pollution and Covid-19 affect the lungs and the high level of air pollution may worsen the disease, it may result in the death of a patient as well,” Guleria said.

As per the Centre-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR), the air quality in the national capital would not improve until Sunday evening. The improvement would, however, just fluctuate in the ‘very poor’ category.




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