Is the air you are breathing killing you slowly?

Dr. Reepa Agrawal
Is the air you are breathing killing you slowly? 29 Aug, 2019

This article is second in the series on air pollution. The first part “Air pollution adversely impacts us all – from womb to tomb“ was published on 6th December 2018.

We need to breathe to stay alive is common sense and what we are breathing might be slowly killing us is a matter of grave concern. Well, air pollution is one of the biggest environmental crisis which we are facing today. Air pollutants like black carbon, methane also known as SLCP (short lived climate pollutants) are also responsible for adverse climate changes. According to data of World Air Quality Report 2018 carried by IQAir AirVisual platform 2018 based on PM2.5 (particulate matter 2.5 microns) air quality data, the top 10 worst affected cities are in Asia, 7 out of 10 in India itself, 2 in Pakistan and 1 in China. The City of Gurugaram located in Haryana state of India tops the list. The cities are listed below:

1. Gurugaram, India

2. Ghaziabad India

3. Faisalabad, Pakistan

4. Faridabad India

5. Bhiwandi India

6. Noida India

7. Patna India

8. Hotan, China

9. Lucknow India

10. Lahore, Pakistan

The invisible microscopic air pollutants easily dodge the natural barriers of our body and enter our lung alveoli, get absorbed into our microcirculation and traverse throughout our bodies creating havoc. Ambient air pollution alone causes 4.2 million premature deaths globally as per World Health Organization (WHO) data mainly from stroke, lung cancer, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and childhood acute respiratory infections. Further WHO data suggests that almost 29% deaths and disease from lung cancer is due to ambient air pollution and so is 43% deaths and disease from COPD, 24% of all deaths from stroke and 25% of all deaths from ischemic heart disease along with 17% of all deaths and disease from acute lower respiratory tract infections. Asthma exacerbations are also linked to air pollutants. Even household air pollution is responsible for around 3.8 million premature deaths due to conditions like adult and childhood pneumonias, stroke, COPD and ischemic heart disease. Fossil fuel burning contributes a lot to this.

This air pollution needs to be tackled at all levels by one and all. Simple measures like carpool or using public transport will reduce automobile exhaust pollutants. Checking and monitoring industrial exhausts is very important. Replacing fossil fuels burning by energy efficient methods for cooking will decrease household pollutants. A green planet is the need of the hour and also a necessity for a healthy legacy.


2018 World Air Quality Report, IQAir AirVisual Platform 2018

World Health Organization
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