Air pollution has become almost an every day problem in the national capital. And as the winter season sets in, all that smog and grey weather is back. For the last few days, the air quality in the city has seen a constant fall owing to several factors, including continuous burning of stubble. As the air quality worsens and the smoke of pollution engulfs the city and chokes citizens, doctors on Saturday said the impact of worsening air pollution on public health can be compared to smoking of 15-20 cigarettes a day.
"I have seen a change in the colour of lungs over the past 30 years that I have been operating. Earlier, I used to see black deposits only in smokers and others would have pink lungs... But, nowadays, I only see black lungs. Even teenagers have black spots on their lungs. This is frightening," Dr Arvind Kumar said in a statement issued by Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.
Dr Arvind Kunmar is founder trustee, Lung Care Foundation, Chairman, Centre for Chest Surgery, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.
"The impact of the foul air on public health can be compared to smoking 15-20 cigarettes a day," he added.
A demonstration was carried out in the hospital to showcase the ill effects of air pollution on the lungs as a part of a campaign launched by the Help Delhi Breathe initiative, the Lung Care Foundation and the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. An installation depicts human lungs fitted with white Hepa Filters which, due to exposure to Delhi air, that turn black.
"Air pollution has reached alarming levels in Delhi and is causing severe damage to the health of the citizens. We have to act immediately to control this menace, otherwise the health consequences will be disastrous. We are already seeing an increasing number of patients in our hospital continuously complain about cough, irritation in throat and nose," Dr SP Byotra, vice-chairman, Board of Management, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, said in the statement.
The organisers say the installation is inspired by the warning issued by the WHO.
"The world has turned the corner on tobacco. Now it must do the same for the 'new tobacco' the toxic air that billions breathe every day," WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had said.
"Both the Delhi government and the central government have failed the citizens. We need to take bold steps to course correct this deadly path India is on... In the name of development, industries are polluting without consequence. As citizens, we need to hold our representatives accountable for the environment. This election year citizens should say loud and clear: 'saans nahin toh vote nahin'," said Reecha Upadhyay, Campaigns Director, Help Delhi Breathe.
The campaign hopes to raise awareness on the effects of air pollution in the capital.
"A key objective of our campaign is to ensure that the remedial programs at state and central levels are implemented and the benefits communicated to citizens," Upadhyay said in the statement.
The Environment, Forest and Climate Change Ministry has issued a notification, and the National Clean Air Programme focuses on the prevention, control and abatement of air pollution and on augmenting the air quality monitoring network across the country. The Delhi government also has put in place the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) to respond to high air pollution days, Upadhyay added.
(With inputs from agencies)